Passenger Assistance App finally launches

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Steph_acc

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The much-awaited (and overdue) Passenger Assistance app by Transreport has launched today.

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Passenger Assistance app to help disabled rail passengers travel with confidence in first for public transport​



ByDanny Longhorn
May 25, 2021
Rail Delivery Group
A new app available today will make it easier and quicker for disabled people to request assistance for their train journeys, helping people to travel with confidence.
The ‘Passenger Assistance’ app, developed with train operators, will offer passengers the choice to request assistance, update their profile and review their journeys from anywhere using their smartphone, a first for public transport anywhere in Great Britain. This can speed up assistance bookings and give customers greater confidence on their journeys as they can instantly amend accessibility requirements on their profile via the app.
The rail industry has already improved assistance for passengers by replacing back-end systems to improve calls, introducing user profiles to speed up bookings, and providing frontline staff with real-time information about assistance bookings through one central database.
What are people's thoughts? Do you think it will make a meaningful difference to the ways passenger assistance is provided?

From my quick look, the interface looks nice, and being able to book everything in one place is good, but it's disappointing that it's not possible to book tickets at the same time or check if wheelchair spaces and the desired assistance is available ahead of time. This has been built up by Rail Delivery Group and some of the operators as a huge change in the way assistance works, but so far it seems more like a small step forward. I'm aware there have been huge changes on the station-facing side of the system too though, so perhaps only time will tell.
 
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Caleb2010

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I booked assistance a few weeks ago using the telephone and got a confirmation email from Transreport detailing my assistance request- spot on. It even got it right, better than ever before!

Today I’ve booked additional assistance for another trip, using the app - it worked flawlessly and returned my successful (and correct) confirmation within minutes

Ok, we don’t yet know weather the correct information will get to the station staff, but it appears to be working so far!

One single app (for those able to use technology) is a great idea - hopefully it’ll lead to a single phone number for the same (for those who can’t).
 

Paul Kelly

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I think that assistance requests should be built into the reservations system (as I understand it used to be, years ago?) rather than as an entirely separate computer system. This would mean it could be integrated into the booking process and not seen as a separate add-on, which potentially stigmatises people who need assistance, as well as being less convenient than would be ideal. To do that I think the question of who pays for assistance would need to be addressed though. There is probably an argument that making it easier to request assistance means that more people do it, including people who arguably aren't entitled to assistance under the Equality Act. But some people might even be happy to pay a small fee for the reassurance that there would be somebody there to help them at the station, but the current system doesn't have that possibility, meaning it looks like a cost centre rather than something that could potentially be profitable.
 

Chris M

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Integrating it into the booking system would also make its existence known to more people than currently, which would be a good thing for encouraging travel.
 

WelshBluebird

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To be somewhat cynical - having a fancy app does not matter at all if the person cannot rely on the requests being acted on.
Surely the focus is on the wrong thing? They need to make sure that every single request for assistance is actually taken onboard and not ignored first before rolling out a fancy app to be able to book said assistance.

It would be like allowing passengers to reserve seats via fancy apps in advance of travelling but then those reservations not being in place on the train. Oh, maybe a bad example!

Sarcasm aside - I do think the focus is on the wrong side here. Passengers can already book assistance. Sure this is much more user friendly, but if you can't guarantee that assistance will be there then what is the point?
 

maycli

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I understand the part about being able to pre book assistance by telephone, having done it twice. In both cases it was nowhere to be found on my return journey at neither the boarding station nor the alighting station although friends did meet us when alighting the second time.
What I don't understand is this. Who are the majority of people using this service? Generally the elderly? Who are the people most likely not have a mobile phone or understand apps? Generally the elderly! So its no help whatsoever for us. Yes I have a mobile for emergency only.
 

Caleb2010

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I think you’ll find that the vast majority of people using passenger assistance are not elderly!

They are people of all ages that require assistance!

Plenty of these people are perfectly able to use a smartphone and the internet! Quite a few elderly people are tech savvy too!
 

CrilMitic

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As for my opinion, I believe that this application will greatly facilitate the booking of seats. Yes, it may not be perfect yet, but it seems to me that they will soon make it more convenient
 

Caleb2010

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It also seems, at the moment, that you are at the mercy of the station to enter a ‘assistance completed’ mark or something

Out of the six journeys I undertook over the weekend, only 2 have been marked ‘completed’!

Maybe a button for the user that says ‘journey completed’ would move the journey into the previous assistance folder.
 

CyrusWuff

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It also seems, at the moment, that you are at the mercy of the station to enter a ‘assistance completed’ mark or something
That relies on TOCs giving their station staff the necessary access (and briefing) to do so, which hasn't been done at the one I work for.
 

skyhigh

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As for my opinion, I believe that this application will greatly facilitate the booking of seats. Yes, it may not be perfect yet, but it seems to me that they will soon make it more convenient
But it's got nothing to do with booking seats? It's passenger assistance?
 
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