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Digital at the service of PMR accessibility



maquette article PMR

Knowledge of users in public transport applications is an essential component in their conversion to Service Mobility (MaaS): Knowing your users better means better understanding their needs. Among these potential users, the Observatoire de la Mobilité en Île-de-France estimates that approximately 12% of the population of the Ile-de-France would be in a situation of disability with regard to mobility. By extrapolating, more than 4 out of 10 Ile-de-France residents could temporarily find themselves in a situation of reduced mobility requiring adaptation of services by mobility players.

Inclusion of people with reduced mobility (PRM), a societal issue

The Public Transport Authorities as well as the public transport companies are strongly committed to making the use of public transport more accessible to users with disabilities or reduced mobility (PRM).

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The LOM (Loi d’Orientation des Mobilités), promulgated at the end of 2019, accentuates this strategic orientation for an overall envelope of 13.4 billion euros at the national level. We can cite four articles of the LOM which represent a significant advance in the definition of accessibility issues (art 19, 21, 27, 28):
• A single platform for booking station services;
• Special rates for people accompanying people with reduced mobility;
• Information on transport accessibility and station equipment;
• Alternative transport for people with reduced mobility.

Thus, the inclusion of public transport is mainly based on two areas of investment: material and digital.

Material investment in the service of accessibility

Accessibility can be defined as the freedom of movement and location in space for everyone.

Since 2009, Île-de-France Mobilités, the Île-de-France region and the SNCF have, for example, committed to facilitating access to 270 stations in the Ile-de-France region by 2024 for a total bill of 1.4 billion euros. half of which is financed by Île-de-France Mobilités. Among the list of works carried out, we find among others: the addition of elevators, escalators, guide strips for the visually impaired or light flashes for the hearing impaired.

At the same time, the region is massively pursuing its rolling stock renewal plan launched in 2016 with the forecast of 700 new trains by 2024. Trams and buses already incorporate accessibility issues: we can cite the upgrading of platforms , the low floors of vehicles or the places dedicated to people with reduced mobility and wheelchairs.

These major efforts on the renewal of rolling stock or the adaptation of infrastructures (stations, stations and platforms) represented until now the most significant investment in the policy of accessibility of public transport to PRMs. However, the real challenge for the years to come will be to offer service applications and user journeys highlighting these physical investments through personalized uses adapted to the profiles of travelers.

Do you want to perform a route search from point A to point B, including connections and real-time traffic information? It is within reach of most mobility applications on the market! What about this same route search for a wheelchair user when:
• The lift at the connecting station is out of order;
• Traffic unexpectedly had to serve another platform at the arrival station. This one is unfortunately not equipped with a lift.

So many common situations in the lives of users, linked to the operation of public transport networks, but of which Persons with Reduced Mobility are victims…

Digital investment for inclusion

It is easier to define the term inclusion by confronting it with its opposite: exclusion. Thus, inclusion in public transport must guarantee users with disabilities the same level of service as any other user.

The European Center for Standardization (CEN) is the body responsible for defining, among other things, the standards for the exchange of public transport data. At the time of writing, two standards are deployed in Île-de-France allowing standardized data exchange between transport operators and Île-de-France Mobilités:
• NeTEx (Network Timetable Exchange) describes in detail the network topology, theoretical timetables, fare data and station services.
• SIRI (Service Interface for RealTime Information) makes it possible to describe all the complexity of real-time data, such as for upcoming stopovers or the status of station and station equipment in real time.

Thus, in addition to making available the whole structure of the data necessary for the definition of the levels of accessibility of the networks (according to the Transmodel modelling), these standards carry the ambition of their updating in real time.

An accessibility reference

Since its commissioning in 2021, the NeTEx Île-de-France profile has made it possible to associate a line or a place with a level of accessibility according to 6 categories:
• WheelchairAccess: wheelchair accessible
• StepFreeAccess: access is possible without crossing steps or stairs
• EscalatorFreeAccess: access is possible without using an escalator
• LiftFreeAccess: access is possible without using a lift
• AudibleSignalsAvailable: Audible signaling is available
• VisualSignsAvailable: visual signage is available

In order to best respond to European regulations, CEN continues working groups with the aim of moving towards a fine modeling of equipment and services in stations and in vehicles. The issues are multiple:
• List the services available on board vehicles or on a site as well as the associated details such as opening hours or contacts.
• Map the equipment available on board vehicles or on a site (platform, lift, escalator, passenger information equipment, etc.).
• Generate links (pathlink) between the different “nodes” (platforms, lifts, intersections, etc.) at the level of a station or station in order to guarantee the personalization of correspondence to the profile of users, in particular those at the reduced mobility.

Thus, inclusive mobility must focus on information and the journey of users within transfer zones, which are often very dense, in order to limit the feeling of apprehension of Persons with Reduced Mobility or with disabilities within public transport.

Information just at the right time

A route proposal from a mobility service application should be considered as a service contract between a transport operator (or a Mobility Organizing Authority) and a user. Thus, if the service offered ultimately turns out to be disrupted (as happens… sometimes!), the user must be notified in real time and an alternative solution adapted to his profile must be offered to him.

To do this, transport operators and the Mobility Organizing Authority will be able to rely on the commissioning of real-time data exchange solutions. The SIRI Stop Monitoring or Estimated Timetable service makes it possible in particular to update the schedules of passages at the stops or even the platform served in real time. The SIRI Facility Monitoring service, for its part, would make it possible to indicate in real time the operating status of equipment on board vehicles or within stations and stations.

It is therefore essential not to limit the issue of transport accessibility to the material investments of a territory, as it is important to highlight them through digital investments. This paradigm can be amplified by the orientation of material investments on equipment integrating on-board communication systems (in the form of state sensors) in the service of proactive maintenance and quality information for users.

maquette article PMR

Models of itineraries with and without proposed route in the station. Screenshot: Getting around / Ile-de-France Mobilités.

Service to the traveler by the traveler

The complexity of communicating the Information Systems of transport operators, station operators or passenger service providers has encouraged the creation of innovative companies in the field of user assistance. We can cite for example the success of Ezymob or Mon Copilote, both winners of the 2020 passenger information challenge organized by Île-de-France Mobilités on the theme of innovation at the service of Passengers.

There is also no doubt that fair and inclusive passenger information will in the future require privileged and moderate consideration of user observations during their journey in public transport, like the leader in road navigation Waze.

We can then hear in vehicles or within a place of correspondence: ” A defective service or equipment to report to us? Scan the QR code present on the equipment in order to notify the teams in charge of its maintenance as well as all users as soon as possible “.




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