bbc.co.uk
Home
Explore the BBC
You and Yours - Transcript
BBC Radio 4
Print This Page
TX: 05.06.08 – Merseytravel

PRESENTER: PETER WHITE

Downloaded from www.bbc.co.uk/radio4
THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.


WHITE
Now we recently reported how the identity and passport service had sorted out the problems with their online passport application system - you remember the newspaper pictures of long queues outside the Passport offices in the summer 2006. But if you're visually-impaired the system still has its problems. On In Touch recently we heard from Dawn Hartgen who's having problems getting a passport application form in large print so that she can fill it in herself. After many promises and many delays a regular form arrived with instructions in large print and a letter of apology in - wait for it - small print. Now Dawn has faced similar problems with Merseytravel, the public sector body which coordinates public transport in the area. Merseytravel widely advertise that they have large print forms - format timetables available as part of their accessibility transport programme and their website states:

ROBINSON
Merseytravel's aim is to provide a single integrated public transport network that is accessible to everyone. But when Dawn wanted to make a straightforward bus journey and needed a large print timetable she ran into problems.

HARTGEN
I went into the local bus station - Merseytravel Bus Station Information Centre - in St Helens to inquire about a large print bus timetable that the bus company actually advertised that they do.

WHITE
And what was the journey that you wanted to make?

HARTGEN
I wanted to make an unexpected journey the following day, so I wasn't clear on the buses what number they were or the route of it. So I went in to actually pick up a large print timetable which gives the route on, the times of the buses and obviously the return journeys as well on there.

WHITE
And what reaction did you get?

HARTGEN
Well I was informed that - by a blank face and she didn't really understand what I wanted until I explained that I wanted a large print version of that timetable. So I explained that within their standard print information it says that all these timetables are available in alternative formats. And I was informed that they didn't have them - any there but if I wanted one they could probably get me one within three weeks.

WHITE
This is for a journey you wanted to do the next day.

HARTGEN
Exactly.

WHITE
And how did they offer to get that to you?

HARTGEN
They offered alternatively for me to receive a fax. Two problems with that. The first is I don't have a fax machine, the second is it would have been a standard print anyway.

WHITE
How widely do they advertise their large print service?

HARTGEN
The information is on all the standard print bus timetables, it's in their magazines that they have dotted around the bus stations, on the buses, it's in Altogether Now, which is another magazine for disabled people. It is well advertised, it's on information from the Liverpool Talking Newspapers, they advertise them.

WHITE
So your real complaint about them, I mean apart from not getting the information that you want, is that they say they do one thing but actually do something completely different.

HARTGEN
Exactly, exactly. A lot of these companies advertise the fact that yes you can get x, y and z - you know alternative formats, they've got wide bus openings and all the rest of it but when it actually comes to delivering the service it's hopeless.

WHITE
So what was the upshot of this?

HARTGEN
Nothing, I had to rely on the public.

WHITE
Dawn Hartgen. Well Neil Scales is the chief executive of Merseytravel and he joins us. So let's get it clear, what is your policy on large print timetables Neil?

SCALES
Well it certainly should not have taken three weeks to do that and if the lady was advised about that that information is incorrect and I'd like to apologise straightaway.

WHITE
Because a member of the public could probably produce a large print timetable in three weeks.

SCALES
Well absolutely - well I think anybody could quite frankly. But unlike rail timetables that change every six months there are 37 separate bus companies on Merseyside and the bus network can change every 56 days. So the situation is that with our travel shops is that if anybody requests one it goes back to the centre, we print out a large timetable and we sent it out by first class post the same day, so it should have just arrived there. And we've done a lot of checking on this obviously and without knowing the date that the lady went into the travel shop we can't speak to the member of the team to confirm exactly what was said. But our travel centre teams are well versed in how this works, I'm very surprised about this complaint, it's the first time I've heard of this in 10 years. So what I'm going to do after today I'll make sure that we reinforce the procedure so everybody knows what the procedure is.

WHITE
I mean do you get a lot of turnover in staff because presumably key here is training your staff to know what visually-impaired people want?

SCALES
No and we pride ourselves on that, we do a lot on the accessibility front. We've just refurbished very recently all the rolling stock on the railway and they've all got enunciators on that do, you know, the next station in terms of a voice saying it as well as it being in large print.

WHITE
But that's mechanised, this is about people isn't it.

SCALES
Yeah but our people - our front line staff are all trained in disability discrimination awareness. So in fact all of our 800 and odd staff are.

WHITE
Quite briefly, how would you respond to what she seems to be suggesting that this is just window dressing - you do a lot of advertising but when it comes down to it it's not there?

SCALES
No we're very serious about this because as your intro said our aim is to provide a single integrated public transport network that's accessible to everyone and it means accessible to the partially-sighted, the blind, the disabled. And if you make it accessible to those groups of staff - those groups of people sorry - you automatically make it accessible for everybody. So all I can do is apologise. We couldn't get the date that the lady went into the travel shop so I don't know who she spoke it.

WHITE
Well we may be able to find that and pass it on to you ...

SCALES
That would be fantastic, thanks very much.

WHITE
Neil Scales thank you.

Back to the You and Yours homepage

The BBC is not responsible for external websites

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy