The South East of Scotland Transport Partnership has developed the Thistle Assistance Programme to make using public transport easier for older people and those with disabilities or illness.

The card and App, is supported by a wide variety of voluntary organisations across Scotland and by most bus, train, tram, ferry and airport operators. It is credit-card sized and comes with a supply of peel-off stickers, which advise the driver or conductor of your disability and the help you need in an easy-to-read format.

The Thistle Assistance Card and App were developed with the help of transport providers and users to provide a useful means of displaying the right information for the passenger, with symbols indicating the type of disability and a short message indicating the help required that could be read at a glance by bus drivers, train and tram conductors and other staff. The card comes with an information leaflet showing customers how to use the card and highlighting that it has no monetary significance – it is purely an information card.

From discussions with transport providers, older and disabled people and our Equalities Forum, the South East of Scotland Transport Partnership was able to understand the problems and worries faced by many when using public transport. By providing a simple form of communication between the provider and the passenger in the form of the Thistle Assistance Card, the gap between disabled and non-disabled passengers begins to close. It also gives passengers (who wish) a form of discretion and can reduce the worries faced when using public transport.

The simple design of the Thistle Assistance Card and App ensures that anyone coming across it would understand its meaning. One of the major benefits of the Thistle Assistance program is that it allows transport operators to better understand a passenger’s needs, especially when many disabilities are often hidden. Through consultation with operators and user groups we have tried to ensure that the appropriate nationally established logos and layout were also suitable for the purpose.

The card is available to all people who require it through bus companies, libraries, health centres and on request, with no eligibility criteria required. For more information please visit the Thistle Assistance website