A new trial assistance service was launched in Kraków where specially trained staff provided one-to-one physical and practical assistance to older and mobility-restricted passengers at selected public transport interchanges within the city. The project was implemented as part of the AENEAS Project http://www.aeneas-project.eu/.
Background & Objectives
In Kraków most of the tram stops in the city centre are located in a way that passengers are required to cross busy roads in order to access the tram services. This creates an uncomfortable situation for many tram users, especially for older and mobility restricted people, and in some cases has led to traffic accidents. Further, despite the ongoing modernization of rolling stock by MPK (the local public transport operator), at the time of this study only 50% of trams and buses did not have low-floor access, which restricted ease of access for older and mobility-restricted passengers.Together, these problems made it difficult for many people to board and alight local trams and buses in a safe and comfortable way, and prevented some of the most vulnerable passengers from travelling independently, or travelling at all.
A 1-year pilot scheme was introduced in May, 2010 whereby dedicated staff were placed at 2 major public transport interchange facilities within the city, with the aim of providing both physical assistance to passengers boarding and alighting vehicles, as well as providing route and timetabling information if requested.In total 9 young assistants were trained, and in groups of 4 at a time were positioned to assist older and mobility-restricted people at bus and tram stops in the city’s market area- a location where many people travelled to fulfill their daily shopping needs.>Service staff were available only for selected periods throughout the day (9.00 to 12.00), and rotated to test the service on different days, e.g. workdays, weekends and National holidays. In order to be properly recognized, they all wore are red jackets or T-shirts with AENEAS logos, and carried easily visible ID cards.This measure fits into the overall transport policy of the City of Kraków (established by the City Council in 1993, and updated in 2007) which aims to improve the quality and accessibility of public transport in the city. It is also part of the municipality’s wider policy to reduce the number of road accidents in the city.
Results and Conclusions
The main results and conclusions of the trial assistance scheme were;
- Depending on the weather around 20-30 people took up the offer of help by each AENEAS assistant every day, which equates to between 80 to 120 been helped every day;
- The type of help provided was mainly to do with getting off and on buses and trams, although, some people also requested help concerning bus/tram connections and timetables;
- During the trial it was found that older females were more likely to ask for and take up the offer of assistance, although, many visually and mobility impaired people also requested help.
Feedback from the campaign also revealed that;-