Llanelli AM Lee Waters has announced his support for plans to improve the accessibility of travel services during a public event at the Senedd.
The Welsh Labour politician attended ‘Travel information for all’, Traveline Cymru’s official launch of its new Freephone service.
The new number - 0800 464 0000 - is free to use from mobile phones, as well as landline numbers, and has been made available in response to a recognition that information about such vital public services should be accessible to everyone in Wales.
The Freephone service aims to provide essential support, timetables and journey planning advice to the digitally excluded. This means that individuals such as the elderly, disabled, and those with learning difficulties can access transport information at any time, as well as those who simply cannot afford broadband or mobile devices.
During the event, Mr Waters said: “Traveline Cymru has played a crucial role in this field for many years, but I think the potential for the future is still untapped. I’m very pleased to be highlighting their work.”
Handled by its bilingual call centre in Gwynedd, Traveline Cymru provides journey planning, routing and timetable information for all bus and rail services in Wales via its telephone service.
The call centre, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2015, has handled over 3 million calls over the last decade, almost one for every person living in Wales.
Despite the emergence of Traveline Cymru’s digital and mobile technologies, the call centre handles around 100,000 calls a year, satisfying a demand from people without internet access, people on the move, disabled travellers, and those who struggle with modern technologies.
Dr Victoria Winckler, board member of Traveline Cymru and director of the Bevan Foundation, spoke at the event, saying: “Public transport is absolutely critical to the fabric of Wales, and is one of the Cinderella services. Each year there are 101million bus journeys and 20million train journeys around Wales, allowing people to live their lives.
“Information about public transport is just as crucial as the services themselves. Without a timetable, a bus or a train is just a vehicle on wheels and getting information can often be difficult. This is why we have Traveline Cymru, it’s reliable, accessible and personalised.”
Jo Foxall, Operations Director at Traveline Cymru said: “While the world becomes increasingly digital, there is still a high demand for traditional services. It’s all too easy to assume that everybody has a smart phone or a computer, but we recognise that this is not the case. The new Freephone number is vital in providing support to those who cannot access our online services.
“We want our customers to be able to access our information at any given time, and at no extra cost. We want to encourage people to get out and about by using public transport, and we hope this simplifies the process of finding essential transport information. We’re also pleased to provide a walking and cycling journey planner as part of this service, for those who are always on the move.”
Traveline Cymru is a not-for-profit company based on a partnership between the Welsh Government, public transport operators in Wales and Welsh local authorities. It provides route, fare and timetable information for all bus, coach and rail services in the country via a bilingual website, its call centre and a suite of services for mobile phone users.
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