A Chat with Jay Shen, Founder at Public Transport Accessibility App: Passenger Assistance

Transreport exists to help people have better public transport experiences.

Our flagship product is the Passenger Assistance app. We believe it may be among the world’s most accessible digital products, due to the diverse needs of our users.

Put simply, we build the app for people to plan their train journeys and arrange assistance quickly and easily, whether they’re blind, autistic, use a wheelchair or are temporarily injured.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

I founded Transreport in 2016 while a student at Warwick University. It all started after a conversation with a disabled train passenger. In the few minutes I spoke to this gentleman about the challenges he faced travelling, my eyes were opened to the difficulties and anxieties faced every time a disabled person even thinks about making a journey on public transport.

The following weekend, from my garage in Coventry, I made the prototype. Over the next few weeks, I presented the idea to an ‘Accessibility Panel’ of disabled users.

After 4 years of development, we launched in May last year, and 27,000 people have downloaded the app.


How has the company evolved over the last couple of years?

One of the most significant ways the app evolves is its journey toward becoming the standard-bearer for digital accessibility.

Our evolution has been supported by two investment rounds, the most recent of which was in April 2022. We’ll always be grateful to our investors, notably Blackfinch and Praetura Ventures, for their support and commitment to our mission.

Our team has grown allowing us to make passenger assistance better each day. We now have new features that disabled people have requested like requesting wheelchair spaces and our team is working hard to make the app as useful as possible.

What can we hope to see from Transreport in the future?

One thing we’re really excited about in the near future is the launch of our web app. We’re launching this later in the year and believe it will make our service even more accessible. We know that some people prefer to use a desktop over a mobile app.

For some people, the screen on a laptop or computer is more user-friendly for their accessibility needs and smartphones can be an issue to those with dexterity challenges. The other issue is that disabled people are more likely than non-disabled people to experience poverty, and not everyone can afford a smartphone contract. So the absence of a web app is something we’ve been mindful about for some time.

We’re also working on introducing user-generated elements to the Passenger Assistance experience, like allowing users to rate the assistance they received. I want Passenger Assistance to function a bit like ‘Tripadvisor for train stations.’

In terms of overall goals for our business, I really want to play a part in changing the narrative around accessibility. Too many people assume accessibility is for other people. It’s not. Accessibility is everyone’s business.