The right to mobility must be guaranteed to all citizens. The social sustainability of infrastructures must respect communities and propose solutions to problems, promoting integration and a sense of belonging.
FS Italiane has put the needs of people with reduced mobility at the center of our attention for several years. In order to ensure their right to get around easily, a network of "Sale Blu" have been set up in stations run by RFI and, to improve accessibility everywhere and ensure that technical and organisational responses are increasingly adapted to their needs, we also hold regular meetings and discussions with the associations representing them.
RFI has launched a program of accessibility enhancements for 620 stations as part of the 2016-2026 plan. The renovations are described as "easy and smart stations": the first part ("easy stations") involves raising pavements, decor, removing architectural barriers (elevator construction, tactile paths and maps), adapting lighting to meet current legislation, improving fixed and variable station signs; the second, "smart stations", will see the introduction of a WiFi system at the station and the insertion of turnstiles in order to improve the overall security conditions at the station.
The works are intended to meet the requirements of PRM TSI - “Technical specifications for interoperability relating to accessibility for persons with reduced mobility” (EU Regulation 2014/1300), in line with existing restrictions (structural, architectural, logistical, use) as well as meeting current national requirements for removing architectural barriers.
In the first eight months of 2017, nearly 210,000 assistance requests were made (28% for persons with disabilities who did not need the lifting mechanism, 42% for travellers in wheelchairs who did need the lifting mechanism, 28% for customers with visual disabilities, 2% for customers with hearing difficulties). The assistance service for people with disabilities and reduced mobility (PRM) has seen a steady increase in demand. In the six years of RFI's activity, the assistance services have doubled from about 150,000 at the end of 2010 to more than 300,000 in 2016, and the trend for 2017 shows a further increase of about 5%.
The Sale Blu are centres of reference and journey organisation. They provide useful information to make the best use of the service: timetables and booking arrangements; wheelchair requests; shuttle service within the station; accompaniment to the train or the exit; assistance with lifting mechanisms for getting on or off trains and a free porter service.
Since 2011, the Sale Blu have been operated by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana. There are 14 Sale Blu at the main stations in the network: Ancona, Bari Central Station, Bologna Central Station, Florence Santa Maria Novella, Genoa Piazza Principe, Messina Central Station, Milan Central Station, Naples Central Station, Reggio Calabria Central Station, Rome Termini, Turin Porta Nuova, Trieste Central Station, Venice Santa Lucia, Verona Porta Nuova. There are 276 stations in the Sale Blu assistance circuit.
Particular attention is also paid to the quality of services provided to persons with reduced mobility. To this end, we have found the most effective solutions to ensure access to stations and trains, such as the Trenitalia PostoBlu, which allows you to book a seat and ticket when you request assistance at the RFI Sale Blu or through the call centres, with the option to pay later and pick up your tickets through the various sales channels.
100% of Freccia trains have equipped areas for transporting people with reduced mobility or wheelchairs. The Frecciarossa1000 lets wheelchair users move independently from the disabled-access carriage three to the restaurant carriage. 95.7% of Intercity day trains are equipped for wheelchair users, including toilets. Regarding regional trains, 67% of the fleet has an area with wheelchair access and 60% also have disabled access toilet facilities.
All new regional trains under construction by Hitachi Rail Italy and Alstom, in delivery from 2019, comply with the latest European regulations on this subject, and therefore have all seats and bathrooms suitable for wheelchair users and offer a series of technical arrangements to improve accessibility, offering particular attention to passengers with other types of disability (for example, visual and hearing). The medium and long distance Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca and Intercity trains are equipped with a carriage with two wheelchair places plus 2 companion seats in each carriage. The carriages are marked on the outside by a special international symbol.
The space for wheelchair users has a large travel area with a range of accessories (coffee table, railing, call button, etc.) and is located near equipped toilets. Trenitalia's staff is trained to provide maximum assistance on-board for reduced mobility or disabled people. During the trip, Trenitalia staff contact the customer to confirm that the train personnel are aware of their presence, and assist them in accessing the services inside the train convoy.
Busitalia mainly deals with bus passengers, as well as other modes of transport. Since 2017, Busitalia has entered the long-haul travel sector with the Busitalia Fast service, dedicated to those who choose to travel long distances with the convenience and safety of a coach, with a high quality, innovative service that pays special attention to the customer experience of passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) and other disabilities.
Busitalia fleets are equipped with comfortable seats and improved accessibility tools for passengers with reduced mobility or disabilities on urban buses, such as a door opening/closing signal and voice announcements using speakers positioned throughout the bus; a large (+15% large than category standard) and bright destination board; and a number of support points on board the bus (railing for getting on the bus, handles, continuous horizontal and anatomical upper railing, vertical grips).
In addition, a wheelchair place is located in the center of the bus on the driver's side, in front of the exit doors; there are 2 more non-equipped places on the opposite side, where wheelchair chairs and strollers are always allowed; in the front of the vehicle, near the entrance, there are 4 seats reserved for passengers with reduced motor capacity.