Volunteers over the age of 65 are being encouraged to sign-up to a trial of a new personalised travel assistant, provided by West Midlands Trains and Viaqqio.
Ask-Annie is a journey planning service aimed specifically the over 65’s, providing tailored itineraries across all modes of public transport. A dedicated phone line helps customers discuss specific details for any journey, including accessibility requirements, personal preferences and the use of concessionary passes.
Ask-Annie is an extension of Car Freedom, a successful trial held in 2015-2016 in which over 60s in the West Midlands area tested a range of services to support their travel and lifestyle.
West Midlands Trains and Viaqqio are working together on the project, which enters its second phase this summer. From 31 August, it’s hoped that up to 50 participants will be recruited to trial the service – which will include a website, mobile app and online journey planner alongside the current phone option.
A select group of 10 participants have been using the Ask-Annie since May and meeting together to discuss their experiences. This has proved incredibly useful for informing the development and future scope of the service. Now this group is looking to expand, with a cash incentive for those who take part.
One participant in the initial trial said: “The Ask-Annie project is an opportunity for users to find cost-effective ways to get out and about the country and to visit areas of interest or friends or just to discover more about where the area where you live. I would recommend that users take advantage of this useful service.”
Dr Steve Cassidy, Director of Viaqqio, said: “We are thrilled to be back in the West Midlands and offering another trailblazing service for older people. By developing the Ask-Annie service with more and more users we aim to change the face of travel for over 65’s. It is exciting to co-design features of the service with users. By improving awareness of what transport exists, providing a way of obtaining support from other travellers as well as operators, and helping people get the best deals and access to new and existing services, members of Ask-Annie will find travel easier.That is our goal!”
Francis Thomas, Head of Corporate Affairs at West Midlands Trains said: “Everyone is welcome on our trains but a lack of confidence and unfamiliarity can be major barriers among some groups. Ask-Annie is an important part of our commitment to making travel on our network inclusive. We also want to make it easier and simpler for passengers to connect with other types of public transport. Giving our older customers the confidence to take new journeys is a part of that. We appreciate all the feedback from the initial trial group and welcome anyone else who wants to be a part of Ask-Annie to come forward.”
Reference Rail Business Daily, read it HERE.