Passenger Assistance

Continue to raise awareness of Thistle Assistance and Passenger Assist and explore opportunities for similar offerings with Bus Operators

In the main passenger assistance is used to great affect across most transport modes including rail, ferries and aviation, and good practice can be shared across modes to provide the best possible service to disabled passengers.

Scotland's Railway

Across Scotland’s Railway passengers have largely experienced good assistance. The latest passenger assist satisfaction statistics from 2019-20, gathered by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), shows that passenger satisfaction for the overall experience is 86% - this includes satisfaction with assistance received at a station and satisfaction with helpfulness and attitudes of staff. Additionally, the launch of the new passenger assistance app by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) in May 2021 will make it easier for disabled people to request assistance for their train journeys   

CalMac Ferries

On our ferries CalMac’s passenger satisfaction scores for passenger assistance for 2019 showed that 80% of passengers who requested assistance were either confident or very confident that they would be able to complete their journey. In total 91% of all assistance requests were met, or partially met, in 2019.

NorthLink Ferries

NorthLink Ferries are trialling the Neatebox Solution at their terminals. This system allows disabled passengers to effectively communicate their requirements to staff with boarding assistance being part of the booking process. NorthLink are keen to integrate the Neatebox solution into their existing booking system to better promote its benefits. NorthLink had 219 assistance requests in 2019, this dropped to 134 in 2020 due to decreased patronage.

Civil Aviation Authority

The Civil Aviation Authority’s annual accessibility report highlighted the quality of work being done across Scotland’s airports.  Seven Scottish airports scored ‘very good’ or ‘good’ with Glasgow airport being highlighted for consistently providing on-time service for more than 100,000 assistance requests throughout the year. Many of our airports have various assistance programmes including mobility equipment such as AmbuLift which offers a comfortable and easy transfer for passengers with disabilities to and from the aircraft, pre-assistance booking, and access guides for passengers who require additional support.

Bus services

When we explored passenger assistance as part of our extensive stakeholder engagement programme it became clear that there was a need for assistance on bus services too. A clear recommendation was provided from disabled passengers for Transport Scotland to explore similar assistance offerings in the Bus sector.

In order for assistance to work well it is important that transport staff, particularly those who work in passenger facing roles, are provided with adequate training and have awareness of all the various assistance tools for example Thistle Card and the sunflower lanyard that is in use across the country.

And there are many examples of good practice across the country including CalMac working with the National Autistic Society to create “story boards” detailing journey processes for major and small vessels due to be rolled out this month, and SignLive introduced at Edinburgh Airport, the first UK airport to introduce this service, which provides an online British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting service, allowing immediate and effective communication with BSL users.

Key actions for 2021-2022

In order to fulfil this objective Transport Scotland will:

  • Continue to promote, and raise awareness of passenger assistance services, and the various tools used by disabled passengers to highlight their needs to staff and other passengers.
  • Convene quarterly discussions with key members of our Accessible Travel Steering Group and hold a webinar with interested parties to explore options for providing bus operators and staff with guidance on how to provide and deliver assistance to its disabled passengers.
  • Carry out a survey of bus operators to explore what is currently in place.
  • Undertake a poll, through Disability Equality Scotland to gauge the lived experience of our disabled bus travellers.
  • Through discussions with bus operators consider a trial of assistance at interchanges and bus terminals.