Bus Users UK has been investigating apps for local bus services in Wales to find out how accessible they are to passengers. Technology is increasingly being used to help passengers plan and make their journeys and under the Equalities Act 2010, mobile apps must be accessible and provide all users with equal access to services.
The team from Bus Users in Wales examined apps from Arriva Wales, First Cymru, Stagecoach in South Wales, Cardiff Bus, Newport Bus and Traws Cymru. Each app was tested for design and ease of use around ticketing, journey planning, timetable search, maps, user accounts and operating systems.
Cardiff Bus, Newport Bus and Traws Cymru achieved the highest overall accessibility scores of 99%, followed by Arriva Wales with 91%, First Cymru with 84% and Stagecoach in South Wales with 75%. There was room for improvement with all six apps, however, with the team concluding that assistive technologies would greatly enhance the user experience and improve accessibility for all passengers.
Barclay Davies, Bus Users UK Director for Wales is urging operators to act on the reportâ€™s findings: â€śFour of the apps we tested achieved accessibility scores above 90%, with three scoring 99% which was extremely encouraging. But there is far more that can be done to make these apps fully inclusive and involving passengers, particularly older and disabled people, in their design is the best way to achieve this.
â€śNo-one should be disadvantaged or denied access to services by poorly designed or inaccessible technology. We would also urge operators to consider people without internet access or a smart phone and provide information in a range of formats so that no-one gets left behind.â€ť
Bus Users UK will be expanding this work to include multi-modal and coach operator apps.
Thoughts from Tom Quay, CEO at Passenger and Trustee of Bus Users UK
Thereâ€™s lots to love in this research.
Both TrawsCyrmu and Cardiff Bus apps scored highly. Testament to the work of some very aware and dedicated people who quietly continue to champion accessibility every day, amongst all the technical and delivery challenges of actually building technology at scale (itâ€™s not easy, đź™Ź).
The two Passenger apps in the study scored the same. The strengths and weaknesses write-ups are different, but mostly because the respective operator teams have control over their content, data and commercial strategy, i.e. choosing what tickets they want to sell.
The Passenger app is a white-label product, so TrawsCymru and Cardiff scoring the same shouldnâ€™t be a surprise. But as such, every other Passenger operator in the UK effectively gets the same assessment. That means that the Wales-focused research from Bus Users UK has implications way beyond the Welsh borders. It is good news for thousands of people in Brighton, Dundee, Newcastle, Blackpool, Oxford, Bournemouth, Cornwallâ€¦ and everywhere else in the UK where our technology is being used.
This is the true power of purposeful SaaS. Reaching many, many people at the same time.
The research calls out things to improve for every app in the study, including ours. This is important. There will always be things that we can do better as we learn and delve deeper to understand more about user needs. The task is never, ever done. Constant change means the research and feedback must be a part of the continuous delivery too.
The report states â€śAny enhancements to improve accessibility for disabled and older passengers, improves the overall user experience for all passengersâ€ť. When you consider that we all experience temporary and situational scenarios where we are less able (see Microsoftâ€™s Persona Spectrum), it makes absolute sense to invest like this.