More than 1.5 million Londoners left behind by digital-first approach to transport

People getting on bus | Hillingdon Today

Transport watchdog London TravelWatch have published a report revealing that many Londoners are being left behind by digital technology.

1 in 6 people in London say they are unable to buy a ticket as they can’t use or don’t have access to a smartphone or internet connection, the equivalent of more than 1.5 million Londoners.

A further 1 in 5 Londoners said that they have paid more for travel because they are not able to buy tickets online or by using mobile apps. The impact of this is particularly significant, given the current cost of living crisis, with rocketing utility bills and food prices.

These ‘left behind Londoners’ feel cut off from using public transport because they are digitally excluded or disadvantaged.

Compared to Londoners overall, they are typically older (55+), more likely to be Disabled people and have a lower income. These characteristics often overlap, creating multiple barriers for Londoners who just want to get around the capital freely.

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of London TravelWatch, said: “Many Disabled and older Londoners have embraced new technologies in recent years, making it easier to get around the capital. But our research shows that a digital-first transport network disadvantages some of our most vulnerable citizens.

“A one-size-fits-all approach by transport providers does not work for a large section of London’s population. That can’t be right and it’s why we’re calling on decision makers to provide a system that is accessible, affordable and inclusive.

“We want transport operators to step up by pledging to keep prices the same across all platforms – nobody should be disadvantaged financially based on how accessible the technology is.

“We’re also calling for staff to be more visible and available at stations to help those who need assistance. There should be training for staff and mentoring for people who want to learn how to use different ticket options. Transport operators should commit to consult and work with digitally excluded people and communities before any new technology is introduced.”