Case study: TfL campaign urges commuters to give up their seats

Case studies of disabled and pregnant commuters have helped highlight the challenge of commuting to work faced by those with difficulties getting around, in a campaign by Transport for London (TfL) that has reached millions of people.

Offer your seat: One of the case studies featured in the TfL campaign
Offer your seat: One of the case studies featured in the TfL campaign

Its inaugural Priority Seating Week, in the last week of April, was promoted online using the hashtag #TravelKind to mark the first anniversary of TfL launching its ‘Please Offer Me A Seat’ badge.

The campaign aimed to promote the assistance TfL provides to help those who are disabled or pregnant to travel safely and comfortably and to encourage other travellers to be more considerate of their fellow commuters.

The main objectives were to raise awareness among customers about priority seating that should be given up for those who need it, the fact that some conditions are not visible, and to increase the number of people registering for 'Please Offer Me A Seat' badges and cards.

TfL staff, all users of public transport and people with disabilities or accessibility needs were the focus of the campaign.

It was built around the stories of individuals who had suffered bad experiences using public transport, with the case studies used as ambassadors for the campaign and featured on posters displayed in Tube and bus stations across the capital.

They were also featured in a series of social media videos to bring the stories of their conditions and difficulties they have when travelling to life.

One such person was 26-year-old singer-songwriter Alice Ella, who has M.E. and often struggles to get a seat even when wearing a ‘Please Offer Me A Seat’ badge.

Another was Dr Amit Patel, who has been subjected to rude comments and being pushed aside when travelling with his guide dog Kika and was reduced to tears earlier this year after nobody moved to allow him to sit down on a train.

Dr Patel recorded a special announcement, which was played in Tube stations throughout the awareness week, asking fellow passengers to offer their seat if they are asked as the need for one is not always obvious.

Third sector partners such as Cancer on Board and the Epilepsy Society helped to create posters featuring customers including pregnant women and people with visible and non-visible conditions, talking about the difference having a seat can make to them.

TfL also partnered with the Metro newspaper, which featured a special series of interviews throughout the week.

The campaign also had an internal comms dimension where TfL used its intranet, newsletters and internal social network Yammer to communicate to staff – which prompted some to share their own stories.

The campaign led to a surge in applications for badges – rising from around 300 the week before to almost 1,200 the week after it took place.

In terms of media coverage, there were more than 30 reports across radio, TV, print and online.

Almost 3.5 million people were reached through social media – with more than 350,000 impressions and 9,000 engagements on TfL’s own channels alone.

Matt Brown, director of news, TfL, said: "We are very happy that Transport for London’s first Priority Seating Week was so well received. Its success is down to the integrated approach in delivering the campaign internally, collaborating with partners and ultimately the power of storytelling from the customer’s perspective."

He added: "Their stories, shared across social media, made the challenges relevant and brought Priority Seating Week to life. While the coverage was fantastic, ultimately this campaign was about helping people feel more comfortable and we believe we have achieved this goal, which is the most rewarding feeling."

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