Senior members of the TfL Online, Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement teams met with representatives of Transport for All on Thursday. The meeting was called to discuss how TfL can improve the experience of using Journey Planner for wheelchair users and those with accessibility needs.

This gave us a great opportunity to engage with a very knowledgeable group who were able to give us valuable insights into how we can continue to make improvements to Journey Planner and the way we serve our information.

A key outcome for Transport for All is that these improvements will mean wheelchair users are not reliant on personal experience and knowledge of travelling in London, and are instead served more accurate, reliable information to plan journeys. It‘s crucial that those with accessibility needs aren’t put off making certain journeys due to any gaps or inaccuracies in the information they receive.

TfL members of staff discuss how to improve wheelchair users' experience of using Journey Planner with Transport for All.

TfL members of staff discuss how to improve wheelchair users’ experience of using Journey Planner with Transport for All.


Some of the key issues raised for discussion were as follows:

  • Journey solutions are sometimes more convoluted, time-consuming or difficult than they need be. This is often as a result of National Rail service information not being fully integrated into Journey Planner.
  • Journey Planner doesn’t advise on ‘doubling back’ – going beyond your desired stop and then coming back, which can be a good solution when wheelchair users can’t change at certain stations due to a lack of accessibility between platforms.
  • Different types of rolling stock can mean that certain services are sometimes listed as accessible, when that might not actually be the case.
  • Terminology can sometimes be ambiguous to JP users, and the term ‘accessible’ itself was mentioned as being a little vague, i.e. whether this refers to step-free access to the platform, or to the train, whether trains have dedicated wheelchair spaces, and so on.
  • Info on lifts that aren’t working needs to be more specific, including whether its north or southbound passengers, for example, that will be affected. The @TfLAccess Twitter feed was mentioned as somewhere this information should be shared in real-time.
  • Bugs in Journey Planner when planning journeys with step-free access were highlighted.
  • It was also mentioned that sometimes station staff are unsure when asked about specific details for accessible journeys.
This is how to select your access options when planning a journey - we're looking at how to make the results ever more accurate

This is how to select your access options when planning a journey – we’re looking at how to make the results ever more accurate

The issues above formed the basis of the conversation, and gave us plenty of actions to take away and look at, from quick wins such as bug fixes, through to more complex, long-term improvements to consider. These were some of TfL’s main areas to focus on

  • Ensure our station modelling is all correct and up to date, in order to provide data that is as accurate as possible for planning accessible journeys.
  • Work on getting a better flow of information from National Rail stations regarding any changes to stations and their layouts, as well as problems such as faulty lifts.
  • Aim to more efficiently feed information through to station and frontline staff so that they are able to offer more comprehensive advice.
  • Look at the @TfLAccess Twitter feed and see how more comprehensive information can be fed through in real-time, such as reporting faulty lifts.
  • Consider the suggestion that we include external links (e.g. to National Rail sites) where we have gaps in our information for those wishing to take non-TfL services within London.
  • Future Journey Planner innovations such as automated information for re-routing and even consideration of weather conditions will continue to be looked into.

This was a really productive session and it gave us a great opportunity to engage directly with Transport for All and take on board their concerns and recommendations.

A follow-up meeting will take place in the next few months when we expect to be able to demonstrate tangible improvements to Journey Planner with regards accessible travel, and we will continue to maintain a dialogue with Transport for All in the meantime.

You can find out more about Transport for All, by visiting their website.

Posted by Stephen Irvine

Stephen is the Community Manager and Digital Blog editor for Transport for London

8 Comments

  1. The new journey planner simply does not work. It does not offer any options to tailor the journey, and simply insists that all of my journeys start now and are all entirely by bus. It was a difficult and slow site, but is now entirely useless. This is a broken service.

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    1. Hi Gerry. Sorry to hear your having problems. Have you looked at the journey options (see the first screenshot in the article) to check that you have other transport modes (e.g. Tube) selected? It’s possible you had the “Save these preferences for future visits” box checked when previously making a bus-only journey. You can re-configure here, or clear out cookies from tfl.gov.uk to go back to defaults.

      To change the journey time, change the leaving/arriving times under the From/To inputs. Hope that helps.

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  2. Please note that the “via” option on Journey Planner no longer functions – please fix

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  3. Simon, so sorry that the “via” option hasn’t been working and thanks for making the effort to let us know. We sometimes inadvertently break old features when creating new ones! I’m happy to say that when I checked our work list, this problem had been identified and the fix is in the pipeline, due to be released within three weeks. I also made sure that our testing of this feature is up to scratch.

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  4. Global Pedagogies September 29, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    I can’t actually view any of the information on my iPhone as it is blocked by ads. Totally useless.

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  5. Missing from the list of ideas, but one that applies to a significant proportion of users needing accessible journeys, is to be able to tick a “freedom pass” journey option and ensure that the proposed journey uses routes covered by the pass.

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    1. Thanks Harry, I’ll make sure this feedback is passed on to the Journey Planner team.

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  6. Could get2gether’s short film help with your staff training and to help raising awareness?

    #ChangingAttitudes

    A thought-provoking, true story about life, attitude and buses written and directed by get2gether’s Ambassador Karen Sutherland.

    #BuggyOff #Access #Disability

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