A little extra help from A to B

Lucy Johnston2020, News

News release from Transport Scotland

Calling all travellers! Thistle Assistance has officially launched its brand-new look with a newly- designed Thistle Assistance card, app and website to help make travelling by public transport in Scotland more comfortable and accessible for everyone.

Thistle Assistance is all about helping to relieve travel anxiety and encouraging people to feel confident when using different forms of public transport across Scotland. Anxiety UK found that ‘the main causes reported of anxiety whilst travelling were the behaviour and attitudes of other people, and difficulties finding the way, including the fear of being lost’. The Thistle Assistance card and app seek to ease these feelings of anxiousness and get more people out and about.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:

“I’m pleased we have been able to provide £30,000 to support SEStran in refreshing the Thistle Assistance brand.

“Thistle Assistance helps to deliver on the vision outlined in our Accessible Travel Framework, that every disabled person in Scotland can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens.

“This was a priority area for us in our annual delivery plan to improve accessible travel and I’m sure that users right across Scotland will benefit from the additional features and information now available through Thistle Assistance.”

Members of the public who request a free Thistle Assistance card will receive an information leaflet with the card and icon stickers to place on the back of the card indicating what assistance they may need while travelling. The app follows the same format as the physical card and can be downloaded for free from all online app stores.

Research for the card and app brought to light people’s experiences of travel and the obstacles they face. These included challenges for visually impaired travellers with wide and steep gaps between trains and platforms, as well as difficulty reading departure screens at bus and train stations. Thistle Assistance aims to improve the journey experience for those who require extra assistance as they travel around Scotland.

One card user commented, “I find the Thistle Assistance card is an easy way to ask for help without making a song and dance about it. It just discreetly informs a member of transport staff what I need, whether that’s assistance getting off the train or letting me know when it’s my stop. The card’s always in my wallet now so it gives me peace of mind when I travel.”

Thistle Assistance’s brand-new website (www.thistleassistance.com) is complemented by dedicated social media pages to engage with and learn from people who use the card and app to help make transport accessible to all.

Thistle Assistance is a key component of transport strategy in Scotland and delivers on the Scottish Government’s ambition to have an inclusive and accessible transport system. SEStran and the six other Regional Transport Partnerships, Disability Equality Scotland, Transport Scotland and transport operators are all working towards this ambition.

If you live in the North East of Scotland and would like a card, please contact the Transport to Healthcare Information Centre (THInC) on  01467 536111 or email travel@thinc-hub.org.