•More than 100 passengers invited to try the new trams
•Vulnerable passengers invited to explore new tram features
•Trams will be in service across Sheffield from late Summer
Stagecoach Supertram and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) have completed a series of ‘Try a Tram’ days enabling passengers to experience the new Citylink vehicles due in service later this summer.
The seven vehicles will supplement the 25 Siemens trams in current use when they enter service from late summer. To prepare the company’s more vulnerable passengers for the new vehicles, staff from both Stagecoach Supertram and SYPTE, were on hand at Meadowhall Interchange for informative and fun learning sessions.
Representatives from the Burton Street Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, Royal Society for the Blind, Old People’s Forum, Citizenship First and Autism Plus all came along to one of six events throughout June to try out the new vehicles and get to know the main differences between them and the existing fleet.
The ‘Try a Tram’ days were designed to give more vulnerable customers the opportunity to try out services in less pressurised circumstances, when the tram isn’t running to a timetable or needing to leave the tram stop. Plenty of Supertram employees were on hand to offer assistance and to give advice on the best value tickets to buy.
The events demonstrated a range of features to assist more vulnerable passengers with using Supertram services. These include a change to the location of where passengers using wheelchairs will board the trams and the introduction of new tactile buttons, located in the doors that open automatically and illuminate green when active, helping visually impaired passengers to use services easier.
Treana Hudson, Customer Service Coordinator for Stagecoach Supertram said: “The main point of the days was to help people with learning difficulties or disabilities to explore the new trams in an environment where they were at ease. It was also a great opportunity for us to help some passengers to overcome their fears of tram travel, and to help them be more independent. We wanted it to be both fun and informative and our staff that attended and helped were fantastic.”
Alice Ryding from Autism Plus said: “It was a great event with many of our service users really enjoying themselves. It was a really good way of integrating them in to the community. Our members also fed back that they felt the new trams were a good improvement; particularly the separate section for wheelchairs.”
Karen Egeh from the Burton Street Foundation, a centre for people of all ages with learning and physical disabilities said: “Our visit to the new tram train was fantastic. The team was extremely welcoming and friendly and it was great to hear of the new training that the conductors have been receiving to help support customers with disabilities on the service. Our group particularly liked the extra space for wheelchairs and the special blue disabled button. One particular client who uses a wheelchair was really happy that the space available to her included a seat that her carer could access. A different client loved the idea that there was a button to talk directly to the driver, he said it made him feel really secure. Our clients are all really keen to take a ride on the new tram train when it is fully commissioned and in service.”
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive’s (SYPTE) Director of Public Transport, Ben Gilligan, said: “Supertram’s successful events provided a great way for vulnerable passengers to become familiar with the different design features of innovative CityLink trams first-hand, to help to make sure all journeys can be comfortable and safe. We are looking forward to the introduction of the new trams on the Supertram system this Summer, to both support existing services and bring added benefits such as air-conditioning and more accessible seating space, ahead of Tram Train operation on the national rail network between Sheffield and Rotherham in 2018."
Following feedback from attendees at the events, plans are being made for another familiarisation event once it is passed for public use. A number of passengers will be invited to experience the tram in live conditions later in the summer.