Digitalisation has quickly become integrated into how we perform daily tasks: from planning a journey to buying a ticket for transport. While such technologies aim to benefit transport users, the truth is that new barriers arise for people who cannot access or use these technologies.
As such, EPF member London TravelWatch sought to investigate who is digitally excluded and disadvantaged in the London transport system, how they might be affected, and what actions are needed. The result is an eye-opening snapshot of digital exclusion and disadvantages in London, and includes recommendations to transport authorities and operators.
The report reveals that 1 in 6 people in London cannot purchase a ticket because they lack access to smartphones or the internet. This amounts to more than 1.5 million Londoners who are digitally excluded or disadvantaged. The report also notes that 1 in 5 Londoners have paid more for travel due to their inability to purchase tickets online or through mobile apps. This has particularly affected vulnerable groups such as older people, disabled people, and those on a lower income.
London TravelWatch is calling on transport operators to provide an accessible, affordable, and inclusive transport system. This includes maintaining non-digital options to allow freedom of travel for digitally excluded and disadvantaged Londoners, implementing a dedicated travel mentoring scheme, and making online discounts available offline. The report also suggests that transport providers should work with specialists in digital inclusion when planning changes to ensure that information is accessible to all.
The report highlights the urgency with which barriers to digital inclusion in public transport must be addressed. As Caroline Stickland, CEO at Transport for All, notes, this is particularly important for disabled Londoners who risk being excluded from transport entirely. A “modern” transport network must be accessible to all. These challenges are not unique to London, and may be recognised in other parts of Europe as well.
“Barriers to going online for individuals who are digitally excluded and disadvantaged” source: London TravelWatch