Making concessionary transport schemes for older and disabled Londoners more accessible and efficient

Zaizi’s discovery and alpha work rethought application, assessment and management processes for Freedom and Taxicard schemes to make life easier for older and disabled people from across 32 London boroughs.

The client

London Councils

Zaizi’s role

The brief

London Councils represent London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London. They run a number of direct services for member authorities. This includes: 

London Councils asked Zaizi to run a discovery exercise on these schemes with a focus on the application process and ways users manage their card or pass using online services. This was followed by an alpha phase in which Zaizi prototyped and tested potential solutions to provide an enhanced and more efficient service.

Zaizi stood up a great multi-disciplinary team. They got to the heart of issues that we had some idea existed. Through excellent user research they were able to define and articulate them in a way we had not been able to do. They were then able to turn user insight into actionable user stories and technology options that have been of real benefit to us.

Stephen Boom, Chief Contracts Officer, London Councils

The delivery


A hard-to-reach user base

The user base for the Freedom Pass and the Taxicard travel scheme is older and disabled people, segments of the population that are traditionally hard to reach for research. Recruiting suitable research participants took time and careful planning, with several avenues explored. 

Zaizi worked with a research agency to find participants. We also worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People, who helped get the word out. A survey was sent to all current card holders, and Zaizi followed up with respondents to secure engaged participants.

Different councils do things different ways

The Freedom Pass and Taxicard scheme are operated by 32 distinct London councils, plus the City Of London. While some entitlements relating to these services are statutory and shared by all users, others were available at the discretion of councils, and so differed from borough to borough. For instance, in some boroughs all Blue Badge holders are automatically eligible, but in others users would have to meet different criteria. 

These disparities made creating a system to onboard new users particularly complex. Zaizi met this challenge through careful structuring, turning complex eligibility criteria into clear user flows which we then tested with users to ensure a seamless experience. 

Complicated evidence requirements

To prove they were eligible for the scheme users often had to supply lots of documentation, such as photos, proof of residency and a valid passport. This was often difficult or daunting for our user base, which included a high proportion of individuals with additional needs – from visual impairments to health issues or low levels of media literacy. 

It was important to ensure the onboarding to these services were built with accessibility in mind. Zaizi worked closely with other sectors of government, such as the team behind the Department for Transport’s national Blue Badge Service, to reuse data and make the process as easy as possible for users. 

From the research

I can’t see too well these days and there was a lot of information to collect – luckily my daughter helped with my application, I don’t think I could have done it otherwise

Our research sessions are held in confidence, so the quotes below are not direct quotes; instead they are representative of our research findings and reflect sentiments commonly expressed by the users we interviewed.

How we put our learnings into practice

Ensuring users understand what they are entitled to

Our work at the alpha phase proved it was possible to create a tailored navigation path, outlining the concessionary travel schemes while also taking into consideration both a user’s situation and their location. This research showed us how to best display information that would help users understand:

Making applications easier

Our discovery work showed that many users found the application stage difficult and some needed special support. As well as working to make the application process accessible to users of differing needs and abilities, we introduced functions to streamline the process. For example: 

In the alpha phase we completed a trial integration with the Department for Transport’s national Blue Badge service. If users consented to data sharing between the Department for Transport and London Councils, we could collect that data and use it to tailor the user journey, bypassing the requirement to upload certain forms of evidence and making the process quicker and easier for users. 

Helping staff use the system

The discovery phase also revealed that internal users found aspects of the processing applications inefficient and hard to manage. Our alpha work focused on finding ways to give processors: 

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