TfL today launched its first 'Priority Seating Week' campaign to make travelling easier for people with a range of conditions whose need may not be immediately obvious.
The week marks the one year anniversary of the 'Please Offer Me A Seat' badge - with more than 30,000 issued to disabled customers and those with invisible conditions since the initiative was launched.
Specially designed to make travelling easier for people with a range of conditions that make it difficult to stand, the free badge and card helps customers who otherwise struggle to get a seat on public transport.
To help improve the awareness of the importance of priority seats, 'Priority Seating Week' will see new posters featuring customers, including pregnant women and people with visible and non-visible impairments, talking about the difference a seat makes to them, often having an impact on the rest of their day.
Newly designed Priority Seating signs are also being displayed on selected London Overground and London Underground trains, asking customers to consider others when using the seats with the aim of encouraging everyone to think about their fellow commuters who may have a greater need.
TfL has worked closely with customers to launch the campaign, including Dr Amit Patel, a passenger who has had bad experiences when travelling with his guide dog Kika.
Dr Patel has recorded a special announcement asking fellow passengers to offer their seat if they are asked as the need for one is not always obvious. The announcement will be heard in Tube stations throughout the week.
TfL has worked with a wide range of charities on the campaign, including Anxiety UK, Epilepsy Society, Lupus UK, Cancer on Board and Thomas Pocklington Trust.
On the initiative Dr Amit Patel, said: 'I'm really pleased to see TfL proactively raising awareness about priority seating.
'Travelling with a disability, whether hidden or not can be challenging, scary and sometimes even disorienting. Not everyone has the confidence to ask for a seat and not everyone will always be wearing a badge either.
'I would urge my fellow commuters to be more conscious of those around them when travelling, particularly if you're sat in a priority seat, and please be brave, be kind, and offer it to someone who looks like they might appreciate it.'
Alan Benson, Chair Transport for All, said: 'The badge continues to have a huge positive impact on many people's daily journeys. This small act of kindness by fellow travellers offering up their seat has an immediate effect but also gives a confidence boost that has a lasting impact.
'At Transport for All we applaud TfL's continued efforts to raise awareness of the badge and also applaud the increasing numbers of people who support it through their actions.'
Nicky Lidbetter, Chief Executive at Anxiety UK, said: 'Anxiety disorders often give rise to huge challenges around travel for those that are affected by such conditions and so is it is truly heartening to see hidden disabilities given equal recognition through this important and much-needed campaign.
'I applaud TfL for ensuring that mental health has parity of esteem with physical health disabilities and would encourage others with responsibility for transport across the UK to follow suit.'
Paul Howard, LUPUS UK said: 'The 'Please Offer Me a Seat' badges offered by TfL are an excellent way to help travellers be more aware of the potential needs of those around them.
'The most common symptoms of lupus are extreme fatigue and joint pains, but these symptoms are not visible and most people with lupus can look perfectly healthy.
'We hope this service will continue to help people with invisible disabilities travel more comfortably and also raise awareness about the many conditions that you may not be able to see.'
Anne-Marie O'Leary, Editor-in-Chief at Netmums, said: 'Netmums is proud to support Priority seating week. Whether you're a woman in the early stages of pregnancy who's feeling sick and faint, or someone with anxiety, there are lots of reasons why people are less able to stand.
'That TfL is taking this seriously and helping promote kindness on public transport is something to be celebrated. Well done TfL.'
Clare Pelham, Chief Executive at Epilepsy Society, said: 'I hate to take up a seat on a bus or Tube when someone else who needs one is standing up. But I also - like many other people - don't always spot them and it can be excruciating to ask.
'That's why TfL's 'Please Offer Me A Seat' badges are so great. Many people with epilepsy rely on public transport. Especially because they are unable to have a driving licence if their seizures are not controlled by medicine.
'But no-one can tell who has epilepsy on a train or bus and the stress of standing up in a crowded compartment or bus can trigger a seizure for someone with epilepsy.
'So the simple act of giving up your seat can literally make someone's day. It can be the difference between arriving safe and well at your destination, and spending the morning at A&E with a head injury following a seizure.
'Please do something great for someone today, and give up your seat to a person with a hidden disability.'
Mark Evers, Transport for London's Chief Customer Officer, said: 'Making sure all our customers can travel comfortably and safely is really important to us.
'Priority Seating Week is a great way of reminding us all that not all conditions are visible, and to give up our seat to those who may need it more.'
Notes to editors
'Please Offer Me A Seat' badge
In April 2017 TfL launched a free badge, "Please Offer Me a Seat" to help people with invisible impairments (ranging from hidden disabilities, conditions or illness) following a successful trial in autumn 2016.
'Baby on Board' badge
Travel support card