TfL Travel Support Cards

RMT has sent the following letter to management about TfL's 'Travel Support Cards' for passengers with hidden disablitiies ...

Following the Strategy & Development Forum on Wednesday, here are RMT's comments and questions about TfL's new 'Travel Support Card'. As we understand it, the aim of this is for passengers with hidden disabilities (eg. hearing impairment, learning difficulties, medical conditions eg. epilepsy) to carry a card which they show to staff to indicate what help they may need during their journey.

Firstly, let me state that RMT welcomes any initiative that makes it easier for disabled passengers to travel around the Underground. However, we are very unhappy that TfL has chosen to trial, and soon to introduce, this system with no consultation with the trade unions in either TfL or London Underground. As the representatives of the staff who support and assist disabled passengers every day, we have an essential role to play in the successful introduction of schemes such as this, and have lots of issues that we would like to raise.

TfL/LU should have invited us to raise any concerns or issues we may have much earlier in the process, but chose not to. Instead, it was only when RMT reps found this information that we were able to table it for discussion at the Strategy and Development Forum on Wednesday 26 May. We would like you to confirm what measures you intend to take to ensure that this total lack of consultation is not repeated for future initiatives.

Better late than never, we would like to rasie the following issues:

1. How has TfL involved disabled people in the development of these cards?
Which disabled people's organisations participated in the development?

2. Is TfL aware that where similar cards have been issued in the past, some disabled people have objected to them on the grounds that they are patronising and encourage labelling and even bullying?

3. How has TfL involved staff and trade unions in the development of these cards?

4. What are card-holders told to expect from staff? We are concerned that TfL is telling disabled customers to ask for extra help from staff who may not have been been provided with the training or information to provide that help.
What should a member of staff do if s/he feels unable or ill-equipped to meet the passengers' needs?
Will card-holders be encouraged to complain if they do not get the help that their card asks for?

5. Which disabilities/conditions are included in this? The FAQ gives examples, but not a comprehensive list.
The FAQ does not refer to social/communication/developmental disorders such as autism. Are these included? How?

6. Who issues the cards?
Who are they issued to?
How are they issued?
Are they issued to children as well as adults?

7. What measures are in place to prevent fraudulent or vexatious use of the cards?

8. What does a passenger do if s/he loses the card or has it stolen?

9. Many passengers with hidden disablities will not have these cards. How will TfL ensure that they are still able to access the help they need?

10. And finally ... How does TfL expect station staff to provide the help asked for when there are 7-800 fewer of us?!"

Janine Booth