At the start of Transport for London's (TfL's) Priority Seating Week, new research has revealed that around one in four passengers feels awkward about offering their seat to someone who might need it more. A survey of 1,000 customers also found that almost a third of passengers only believe that they should offer their seat if they are in a 'priority seat'.
TfL's Priority Seating Week aims to address these issues by raising awareness of how to make travelling easier for everyone, particularly those who may be in need of a seat. From this week, customers will also start to notice brand new designs on the fabric covering priority seats on the Jubilee line. Seats that feature six different messages, including 'please offer this seat' and 'someone may need this seat more', will be introduced across the whole Jubilee line over the coming months.
Posters featuring staff will be running across the network and video clips with customers talking about their journeys will be shared on social media. These will be encouraging people to look up and offer their seat to someone who may need it more, whether they are in a priority seat or not. The week will also highlight some of the initiatives that TfL has in place to make travelling easier for everyone.
Priority Seating Week also marks the second year anniversary of the free 'Please Offer Me a Seat' badge. Specially designed to make travelling easier for people with a range of conditions that make it difficult to stand, more than 44,000 badges have been issued to disabled customers and those with invisible conditions since it was launched in 2017. The badge has since been adopted by a number of travel networks in the UK and across the world including Greater Anglia Trains and the New York Transport Authority.
TfL has worked with a wide range of charities on the campaign, including Transport for All, Anxiety UK and Meniere's Society.
Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: "It's vital that we make our transport network accessible to all Londoners and visitors, so I'm really pleased that distinctive new priority seats are being rolled out on the Jubilee line. I hope that they will build on the success of our 'Please Offer Me a Seat' badges to encourage even more people to offer their seat to those who need them."
Mark Evers, Transport for London's Chief Customer Officer, said: "Priority Seating Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of how we can make travelling easier, to remind us all that not all conditions are visible, and to offer our seat to those who may need it more.
"We understand that some people may feel uncomfortable offering their seats. Customers may also not have the confidence to ask for a seat if they need it. Our 'Please Offer Me a Seat' and 'Baby on Board' badges go some way to addressing this but we would encourage customers to have a quick look up when other people get on board, otherwise you might not see that someone is struggling in front of you. While priority seats are highlighted as they are within close proximity to the doors and have assistance poles, we would encourage customers to give up any seat if someone needs it more."
Alan Benson, Chair Transport for All, said: "For many people having a seat when travelling can make the difference between being able to travel, to work, to socialise or being stuck at home. This is particularly true for those with invisible disabilities who may have pain or issues that are not obvious. The simple act of giving a seat to someone who needs it, someone who may or may not be wearing the 'Please Offer Me a Seat' badge, can make a huge difference to their day. At Transport for All we're proud to support the efforts of TfL and Priority Seating Week."
Nicky Lidbetter, Chief Executive Anxiety UK, said: "We very much welcome this second Priority Seating Week and the ongoing work by TfL to ensure all hidden conditions receive parity of esteem with physical health conditions for customers using public transport in London. Anxiety disorders often cause those living with these conditions huge challenges around travel so is it is extremely pleasing to see TfL making this an important priority for its customers."
Natasha Harrington-Benton, Director Meniere's Society, said: "The severe, unpredictable vertigo and associated symptoms experienced by people with Ménière's disease and related vestibular (inner ear) disorders can be debilitating and disorientating for those affected; particularly when travelling. Using public transport can be extremely stressful when you are experiencing the symptoms of these conditions. The TfL 'Please Offer Me a Seat' badge is great for people with invisible conditions like these - because they appear well on the outside they may lack confidence to ask for a seat when they need it. Wearing the badge would lessen their anxiety and help them feel reassured when they travel."
For more information on TfL's accessibility services visit www.tfl.gov.uk/accessibility
All buses, Tubes, trains and trams have clearly marked priority seats for anyone who needs them. Customers can also apply for a 'Please Offer Me a Seat' badge and card or a 'Baby on Board' badge to help you get a seat if you need one. https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/please-offer-me-a-seathttps://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/baby-on-board
How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements
'Please Offer Me a Seat' badge
'Baby on Board' badge
Priority Seat designs
Travel support card
TfL is also working to deliver further step-free stations including Boston Manor, Ruislip, North Ealing, Snaresbrook, Park Royal and Rickmansworth.