Kraków - AENEAS Measure #1
Assistance service at major public transport interchanges
In Kraków, mainly in the city centre, tram stops are located in a way that passengers need to cross the car lanes between pavement and tram tracks. This of course creates an uncomfortable solution for passengers and in some cases it even creates dangerous situations and accidents.
Moreover, despite the fact of continuous modernisation of the rolling stock of MPK (the local public transport operator), still around 50% of trams or buses do not have low-floor construction enabling to enter and to leave a vehicle safely and comfortably.
Therefore, for the oldest public transport passengers (group 76 to 100+) it is often a problem to enter or to leave a tram or bus in a safe and comfortable way. This might prevent them from travelling independently or even from travelling around the city at all.
How this assistance works
This measure fits into the overall transport policy of the City of Kraków (established by the City Council in 1993, and updated in 2007), aiming to improve quality and accessibility of public transport in the city. It also corresponds to the municipal policy to reduce the number of road accidents.
It is a pilot project at 1-2 public transport interchange points, with dedicated staff through a whole year. Staff serves and helps older people to enter and to exit buses and trams, based on previously defined rules (e.g. how passengers shall be selected, what shall be done if a person refuses to be served, etc.).
In this test measure around 50 older persons are assisted in one day. Service staff is available in selected periods of the day (not the whole day), and is tested in different scenarios (a working day, a weekend, a national holiday).
Let’s learn from trained assistants and help each other in public transport!
The service was launched on 4th May 2010. A group of 9 young, trained persons (4 at same time) are ready to help older people at the bus and tram stops near the biggest market area, where seniors like to make their daily shopping. Assistants are available from 9:00 till 12:00, everyday from Monday to Friday. In order to be properly recognized, they are wearing red jackets or T-shirts with AENEAS logos. They also have special ID-cards easily visible.
The idea is not only to directly help older people, but to show how it can be done and to raise awareness among others. As a result, we expect that more and more younger people will help older to enter and leave the vehicles, to inform about available connections, to help with ticket purchase, etc.
Already from the very beginning there is big media interest – press, radio and TV interviews. The AENEAS team was also invited to a one hour live radio debate about this measure!
Generally, after couple of months there is positive feedback and acceptance for the measure. There was some political opposition, but mainly related to the general issue of use of EU funds for so called „soft measures”.
The City of Kraków has also launched a campaign promoting this new service. Many radio and TV-interviews have been carried out. As there are some opponents of this measure, a live radio debate in public radio station has been organized, where the AENEAS team explained all the reasons and context of the measure. The local public TV has also made a short report about the new service for seniors.
There is an intention to carry out the measure for 1 year, so there are no definitive observations and formal evaluation yet. But after several months there are already some lessons learnt:
Depending on the weather ca.20-30 persons are assisted by one AENEAS assistant per day (in total it gives ca. 100 persons vs. 50 planned)
Help is mostly concerning getting off and on the bus/tram, but some help concerning bus/tram connections and to read time-tables
The project raises attention, a lot of questions and mostly positive comments
There is a demand to provide such service at more stops
Mostly older women are being helped
Several visually impaired or disabled persons are assisted
There is a need to try out new locations and new time frames – according to requests from senior
Already some people knows assistants more personally, welcomes them each day!
Assistants sometimes are getting sweets as thanks!