How these companies are embracing inclusive transport
17/1/24, 8:30 am
Kastoria Bus Lines and Feonix Mobility Rising leading transport transformation
The lack of accessible transport options makes it difficult – sometimes impossible – for people to get around. This inability to travel independently and as required, has a widespread impact on physical, emotional and financial wellbeing. People without adequate access to transport struggle with employment, access to healthcare, or staying connected to family and friends.
In the United Kingdom, the transport accessibility gap is 38% – people living with disability make 38% fewer trips because of accessibility issues.
In a recent Inclusive Transport Webinar hosted by ITS and NEC, Stacey Ryan, Policy Manager ITS Australia, together with panel members Simon Ryley, Manager Global Smart Transport Solutions NEC, Sandra Witzel, CMO and Board Director SkedGo, and Andrew Chan, General Manager of Kastoria Bus Lines, discussed how transport authorities and operators are designing their services today to address the accessibility gap and which technologies will pave the way for the future.
Our first article informed by the webinar explored data as a critical asset for improving decision-making
How Kastoria Bus Lines is making inclusive transport a reality
Independent travel is vital to precisely that – independence. When considering how they could offer independent travel for all passengers, Kastoria Bus Lines started by speaking to traditionally underserved and underrepresented communities to understand long-standing socioeconomic disparities and what was needed to fill accessibility gaps.
Today they offer safe, sustainable, affordable, efficient and reliable multimodal transport options informed by inclusive public engagement that enable all commuters to reach their destination independently.
One such example is their fleet of 40 special needs buses for school children living with autism. Buses pick up children from home and take them to school, giving them crucial independence and their families much-needed respite.
Three types of transport equity
Mobility justice relies on three types of transport equity that begin well before someone gets on a bus:
- Financial – are all commuters able to afford a ticket? Do all user groups pay the same ticket price, regardless of additional accessibility requirements?
- Infrastructure – do people in all areas (including rural) have access to public transport infrastructure so they are not reliant on a car to access critical services and experiences?
- Technology – is information accessible and understandable to all people including those with a disability, older people, the unbanked and those without smartphones?
How SkedGo’s leading mobility technology is changing lives
Feonix Mobility Rising is a US not-for-profit leading the way with tailored mobility solutions for traditionally underserved communities, e.g. people living with disability, older people, specific user groups like military veterans or rural communities. They leverage government funding to work with local community groups, private sector technology providers like SkedGo and small transport providers with limited technological resources.
By running focus groups with end users, Feonix and SkedGo adapted their solutions and technology to be truly inclusive and user-friendly. Simple changes like increasing contrast, decluttering interfaces, making sure apps and websites are screen reader friendly and thorough testing means a wide range of users can easily use the technology. Mobility wallets allow government departments and support organisations to finance transport for specific groups, e.g. veterans in the US.
Of course, usability relies on access – therefore solutions are high-tech but also maintain a low-tech aspect, such as a call centre and a desktop option that can be accessed on a home computer. For people who are unbanked or unable to access banking technology, tickets can be purchased using cash in the vehicle.
These tailored mobility solutions have delivered life-changing results. For example, Angelo, a legally blind law student from Detroit, previously spent over 250 hours a year on the phone booking his transport to get to university and back. With the new system, he spends a few minutes online weekly to secure transport. He has gained back hours of his life and rightful independence.
Today’s technology and the role of data
In the age of data, we have more information at our fingertips than ever. Unlocking its value depends on identifying which data is relevant and making it easily accessible at the right place and time. This requires a complex and collaborative multimodal approach to ensure equity of access improves access for everybody.
Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platforms are leading the way, ensuring relevant data is available across all phases of the transport journey, including planning, booking, the actual travelling and payment. True equity of access requires data to be accessible in real-time across many modes and presented in a format that is easy to ingest and use. Relying on seemingly ubiquitous technology like smartphones is not enough. There needs to be alternate access methods for people who cannot access smart technology, including the ability to talk to a human.
This is not a problem that one individual technology provider can solve but requires collaboration across the industry to meet the enormous goals around equity and inclusion.
What is unbanked and underbanked and why does it matter?
Unbanked describes people who do not use the services of any banking institution. Underbanked describes those who have insufficient access to financial services.
Financial equity is critical to mobility justice, so inclusive transport must be accessible to all people – regardless of their financial literacy and access. For example, paying cash for a ticket in the vehicle ensures those without banking facilities can still travel.
Connect to an inclusive future
Mobility justice relies on government, not-for-profit, and private organisations working together to create an inclusive and accessible future for transportation. You have the power to make a difference by becoming an industry leader and innovator. Need support to get started on your smart transport transformation?
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Getting people where they want to go is just one way NEC orchestrates a brighter world.
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