A new badge released by Transport for London (TfL) is designed to help those who have special need of a seat on the London public transport network.
The blue badge saying ‘Please Offer Me A Seat’, is now available for passengers who are disabled, or who have illnesses which may be ‘hidden’.
Following on from the ‘Baby On Board’ badge, the decision to make the new badge a permanent fixture, comes after a six-week trial in autumn 2016.
During the trial period, more than 1,200 people reported on their experience of wearing the badge. A total of 72% of journeys were made easier because of the badge, and 86% of respondents felt that the badge made them more confident about making people aware of their needs.
The trial also showed that 98% of those who participated would recommend the badge to someone who might benefit from it.
Not everyone has welcomed it, however. In an interview with BBC Newsbeat, Amy, a 24-year old university student who suffers from lupus, reported that people on the Tube either did not notice the badge, or did not offer her a seat even if they had seen it.
“I’ve only been offered a seat once,” Amy explained. “Lupus is an auto-immune condition where my immune system attacks my body instead of fighting illnesses and infections. On a daily basis, I struggle with fatigue and pain. I take a lot of medication to combat the symptoms but I also get side-effects from the medications, which are debilitating.”
But Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan insisted that “these blue badges will make a real difference to passengers who need a seat but just haven’t felt confident enough to ask for one.”
London’s transport commissioner, Mike Brown, added: “I hope that its permanent introduction will allow more people to travel with ease and in comfort. As they become more widely recognised, more and more customers will be looking out for the blue badges and I hope offering their seat to fellow passengers with a greater need.”
Badge wearers will not be asked to provide TfL with their medical history or evidence from a doctor. TfL will issue a badge for every applicant. It is not clear what sanctions will be available if anyone is found to have used the badge fraudulently.
Image by Spsmiler, available for reuse under the Creative Commons License.