Comprehensive Strategy to Make Public Transport More Accessible to Older People in the Ile de France

Older People in Ile de FranceThe STIF transport authority developed a comprehensive strategy over several years with the aim of achieving a more friendly transport system for people with reduced mobility. This will greatly benefit older people using the Ile de France (Paris region) transport network.

A 2005 law made it compulsory for the transport authority of the Ile de France to deliver barrier-free transport services for all users, and especially those with reduced mobility, including older people.

Although not specifically targeted at the older population, the strategy aimed to improve the usability of the transport network for the elderly by removing physical barriers as well as information/communication difficulties.

The approach used was comprehensive: all services and facilities were reviewed and evaluated from a “reduced mobility“ point of view. The review covered suburban heavy rail (over 450 train stations), the metro system (16 lines), tramways (4 lines) and bus routes (over 1,300). Both the infrastructure (stations and bus stops) and rolling stock (rail coaches and buses) were assessed. Ticket sales and travel information, both on site and distant, as well as signage, were covered by the assessment.

The review process was carried out by the transport authority (STIF), working closely with service operators and representatives of users, including the French Federation of Retired People, who continuously contributed relevant comments on the existing services, as well as valuable suggestions for their improvement.

The assessment resulted in a “master plan”, laying out a strategy for the next 15 years (2005-2019) in order to achieve universal-access transport systems in the region. In this document, modes and services are addressed individually, each with a description of its own targets and ways to meet them. The planning process includes a schedule of the successive steps, allowing the follow-up of progress made. Improvements to all modes and services are taken into consideration simultaneously, with the aim of promoting a user-friendly travel experience rather than achieving universal access in a sequential way, one mode after another.

The master plan has resulted in significant improvements to customer care and in overall benefits to ageing travellers. The increased number of low-floor buses, numerous lifts in train and metro stations, and better signage and travel information have all improved travel experiences for older passengers.

In the near future, a trial will be carried out with respect to the length of time that details are displayed on travel information screens (for example those announcing the next station on the metro) in order to allow easier reading. The trial will be followed by a recommendation for standardisation across the region's transport network.

For more information, visit: Ile de France Transport Authority