GTR trialling app across four stations to improve assistance for blind and partially sighted passengers

GTR trialling app across four stations to improve assistance for blind and partially sighted passengers

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is trialling the use of an app for partially sighted passengers in what is believed to be a UK first.

The app called Aira which can be downloaded on Apple App and Google Play stores, connects users to a remote advisor, who then guides them using the passengers smartphone camera around the railway stations.

The trial is taking place at Brighton, Stevenage, London Blackfriars and East Croydon. The passenger can use the app to help them check the departure board and locating a platform, they can also get help to find a member of staff, or to locate a ticket machine or toilet.

Access to public transport is a key priority for councils with 65% of blind and partially sighted passengers from a survey conducted by Thomas Pocklington Trust – a sight loss charity, said that access to public transport mattered to them most.

GTR’s accessibility lead, Carl Martin, said: “We want everyone to have the confidence to travel with us, no matter what their disability or need for assistance, so we’re always on the lookout for innovative ways to improve.

“All our staff are trained to assist our customers, whatever their needs. We hope this app can improve the support we already offer blind and partially sighted customers to put them in control of their journeys.”

Before the roll-out, GTR reviewed a range of different apps before choosing Aira after positive feedback from customers with lived experience. They will be reviewing the effectiveness of the app after 12 months.

The London Sight Loss Council  which is a group funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust are supporting the introduction of the app with David Smith, Sight Loss Council engagement manager, commenting: “We believe everyone should be able to travel independently and safely, and live the lives they want to lead. We are proud of our ongoing work with transport providers to make this happen through developing new ways of working and trialling new apps.”

Image credit: Govia Thameslink

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