Intelligent Transport Podcast Episode 28 – Claire Walters & Jennie Martin, Bus Users UK

In this latest episode of the Intelligent Transport Podcast, Editorial Assistant Halimah Haque hands it over to Bus Users UK’s Claire Walters and Jennie Martin, while at Transport Innovation Summit 2023, to discuss the transformative impact of technology on public transportation and the challenges of inclusivity it presents.

Beginning the conversation for this episode, Bus Users UK’s Chief Executive and Chair, Claire Walters and Jennie Martin, delve into the gradual, yet remarkable, evolution of technology in public transportation across the UK. They trace the journey from the era of grappling with paper tickets and timetables to the present landscape of digital ticketing. Jennie goes on to explain how technology has streamlined operations for public transport operators and policymakers, highlighting how it has relieved the majority of working-class individuals, who heavily rely on public transport, from the hassle of renewing tickets at the station, thus granting them more time and convenience in their daily lives.

Then, Jennie and Claire underline the importance of including people with disabilities in the initial design process of public transport services. Claire explains that it’s important to understand that while one feature may help one group, it may pose a problem for another; for example, while assistance animals might aid the visually impaired, they may trigger someone’s allergy or fear. She emphasises that achieving balance to meet everyone’s needs is challenging, and no operator or authority will be able to meet them all.

In the second half of this episode, Claire shifts the focus towards their aspirations for advancements in technology within public transport. While Jennie acknowledges the industry’s positive trajectory in this regard, she delves into the complexities that arise from technology, particularly for individuals who are digitally excluded, despite its convenience for most commuters. She underlines the significance of the transport sector and society dedicating efforts and resources to promote inclusivity, advocating for initiatives such as free training and device provision to not only improve their commute but, most importantly, their overall quality of life.

This episode was recorded live during the Transport Innovation Summit 2023 and, as a result, there may be background noise present throughout the discussion.

Jennie - Bus Users UKJenny Martin is Chair of Bus Users UK and keen advocate for shared, equitable and sustainable transport that serves all sectors of society. Before retiring in January 2023, Jennie was Secretary General of ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) UK a membership organisation that works to deliver the benefits of ITS in terms of economic efficiency, transport safety and environmental impact. In 2023, Jennie was awarded an MBE for services to transport technology.

Claire Walters - Bus Users UKClaire Walters joined Bus Users UK as Chief Executive in 2012. A champion of social inclusion, Claire has worked extensively with marginalised groups to improve access to life’s opportunities. Under her leadership, Bus Users has become a registered charity and a leading voice for accessible transport, as well as a founding member of the Sustainable Transport Alliance and the only approved Alternative Dispute Resolution Body for bus and coach passengers. In 2021 Claire was appointed Disability and Access Ambassador for the bus and coach industry by the Cabinet Office.