Disabled Kingston commuters to benefit from new TfL ‘please offer me a seat’ badges

A new TfL scheme could help Kingston residents with less obvious disabilities find a seat on public transport without having to explain why they struggle to stand.

The ‘please offer me a seat’ scheme will roll out in April 2017 and is aimed at commuters who have hidden disabilities. Applicants will receive blue badges and cards.

Kingston resident Megan Taylor, 20, suffers from impaired balance, dizziness and chronic fainting and needs a seat when travelling.

“The scheme has the potential to be very helpful to people with hidden conditions. However, as it relies on other members of the public being aware of it, it might make little difference unless there is an awareness campaign,” Taylor said.

“I already wear a medical alert card and have shown it to people when asking for a seat but have still been told no.

“If the public is well informed it could make a huge difference to people with hidden illness who will no longer be expected to explain their private medical history to strangers just to have a seat.”

TfL hope the new badge will be as effective as their 'baby on board' badges. Credit: Transport for London
TfL hope the new badge will be as effective as their ‘baby on board’ badges. Credit: Transport for London

TfL trialled the scheme in September 2016. The 1,000 participants reported 72 per cent of journeys being easier as a result of the badge, and on 86 per cent of journeys participants reported feeling more confident when asking for a seat.

A TfL spokesperson told the Kingston Courier the application will be free and open to all, with no proof of disability needed to apply.

“The application will be almost identical to the application for our ‘baby on board’ badge,” he said.

“When you apply for a ‘baby on board’ badge we don’t ask for a pregnancy scan and similarly we’re not asking people to prove that they have a hidden disability or an illness or condition.

“As an organisation we’re a transportation authority, we’re not here to curate people’s medical data. We trust our customers.”

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