Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Speaking up

I recently asked the members of a learning disabled group what their biggest problem was.  Their reply was simple and direct. Public transport - particularly buses.

With this in mind, I organised a meeting between them, myself and Arriva in Tunbridge Wells. Yesterday afternoon, the General Manager and Operations Manager met with three learning disabled colleagues, two carers and myself. I merely had to introduce everyone and start the meeting off.

Two hours later, and a vast range of topics had been covered - from the state of buses to the cost of new rolling stock; from the lack of a reliable service to Bluewater to bullying on the buses themselves.  Several things became clear.  Not all issues were down to Arriva - there were several other bus operators, notably New Enterprise Coaches, Autocar and Gryphon, all running buses in the area.  Secondly, simple communication often resulted in an "oh - I never knew that!" response.

Both bus company and users found great value in the meeting, and both sides showed a strong interest in doing this again.

It was only a quick, relatively simple thing to organise, but why can't our public services be more joined up in engaging with harder to reach groups?

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