A Yarra Trams employee informs a customer
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Communication Access Symbol: Inclusion for all

Yarra Trams employee communicates with users
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PostedJAN. 19, 2022
Words byKeolis
How can Yarra Trams, the world’s largest tram network, operating in Melbourne, Australia, promise every single one of its passengers that they will be heard, understood, included and correctly communicated to, regardless of any difficulties they might have? For Yarra Trams, inclusion starts with Communication Access Symbol.

Context: Ensure inclusion for all passengers  

Yarra Trams has been operated by Keolis Downer since 2009, during which time it has made considerable efforts to improve safety, deliver record passenger satisfaction and (of course) maintain punctuality during a period of unprecedented growth across the Melbourne region. With its guiding principle being to “think like a passenger,” the network is constantly looking to deliver safer, more reliable, cleaner and easier-to-use services to its many passengers. That's why, as a leader in the industry, Yarra Trams is committed to communication access and inclusion. The goal is to do away with any hurdles that make oral communication with certain customers difficult, be it for reasons of aphasia, deafness, intellectual disabilities, tourists who do not speak English and so on. 

Innovation: All aboard for non-verbal communication  

In December 2019, Yarra Trams became the first tram network to receive the Communication Access Symbol accreditation from the major disability support group Scope Australia. Today, every passenger, no matter how they communicate, can be confident that staff will welcome them and give them excellent customer service. Staff have been trained in non-verbal communication and have tools at hand to assist passengers in communicating. These tools include a tablet, drawing boards related to the world of transport and an alphabet to point out the letters. All uniforms of trained staff now showcase the Communication Access Symbol logo. 

Yarra Trams , Melbourne

Value: Ensuring inclusion that includes everyone 

The program started in November 2019 and has since trained approximately 14,000 staff members in non-verbal communication. To date, feedback has been encouraging. Controllers report feeling more confident during control operations. Passenger feedback has been positive, especially from tourists. The initiative has been extended to other state networks, including both heavy rail and regional train services. 

Yarra Trams
Yarra Trams

250

 km

of double track, the world's largest operational tram network

200+

 M

trips completed annually 

5,000+

daily services

475

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trams

2,200+

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employees (including 1,200+ drivers) 

1,700

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tram stops (including 420+ that are accessible)  

9

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depots