Poviding passengers with physical limitations with an adapted public transport option, contributing for a more accessible tourism towards smart destination
The city of Funchal has been facing over the years challenges related with the ageing of population and with the fact that the average tourist profile is mainly senior tourist. So, Horários do Funchal, identified the need to reinforce the existent urban fleet dedicated to Special Service for people with reduced mobility.
The new bus for people with reduced mobility (PRM Bus) was publicly presented in September 2019 and provides an answer to the increasing number of residents and tourists with reduced mobility conditions. It is a brand-new bus, that can be adapted to the different service and has a maximum capacity of 9 wheelchairs. It has the great advantage that wheelchairs can move independently of each other and the wheelchair access to the bus is via a rear-mounted electro-hydraulic vertical platform (lift).
The new vehicle have been running as a Special Service under the umbrella of public transport for residents, but also as a shuttle service at the port of Funchal, which receives yearly around 500.000 tourists. The service ensures a connection between the port and the city centre, allowing the transportation of tourists in wheelchair and their partner.
Without such service, tourists had to move by their own means, from the port to the city centre or rent a special taxi for that purpose. All in all, this initiative reinforced the existent Special Service already in operation, by providing tourists with special needs an alternative more accessible to explore Funchal.
The PRM Bus had a total cost of around 277.500,00 €. The measure was partially funded by CIVITAS DESTINATIONS. The project boosts the implementation of innovative measures related to sustainable transports, promoting accessibility.
Evidence of success
During an inquiry process that occurred at the port of Funchal, HF asked the tourists in wheelchairs that experienced the PRM bus , about the experience. The tourists evaluated it with 5.00, in a scale 1 to 5 (1 – not adapted; 6 – totally adapted). Some even shared comments:
• “The HF PRM bus was the best adapted bus I've ever been at.”
• “I’m Amazed with the HF PRM bus. In my Region there is no bus like this.”
• “The HF PRM bus is the best dedicated bus. They are easy and safe. Perfecct!"
The service encountered barriers related to the value of the investment (277.500€) which is a high value to accommodate. Nevertheless, adapted mobility solutions are more and more the answer for collective transport of passengers in order to have an inclusive transport system.
Potential for learning or transfer
Focusing on accessible tourism, this measure can be replicated to other areas that face the same challenges as Madeira, a trend of aging population and tourist destinations that deal daily with senior tourism. Considering the special needs required by such customers in most cases, this measure allows the PT operators to reinforce their fleet following the new trend. The solution contributes for a more inclusive service, providing PT accessible for all, towards smart destinations. Also, provides high possibilities for learning by transport and tourism practitioners and policy-makers in similar destinations.
The success of this good practice is driven by listening to passenger needs and delivering a solution to their needs. Another way of maximizing the success of this initiative is by combining a wide communication strategy to disseminate information about the inclusive service, specifically between tourists that come from abroad and are not aware of such adapted services.
Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.