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Our message to the Mayor: progress on accessibility has stalled

Added: 2 November 2011 | Updated: 9 November 2011

Transport for All have warned that progress on making transport accessible is stalling.

In our response to the Mayor’s Transport Accessibility Strategy Implementation Plan, Transport for All are warning that disabled and older people are being left housebound by TfL’s failure to invest in accessibility.

In the last year, TfL have:

As the numbers of disabled people and older people continue to grow, the pace of improvements is not keeping pace with demand for accessible transport. TfL have stepped back from targets in making both London’s bus stops, and stations, accessible.

Buses conform to standards of physical accessibility, yet many disabled and older people find them inaccessible because of driving standards and ramps which do not work. Half of London’s bus stops are not fully accessible.

There are also a large number of people in London who are not able to use buses or trains at all and are entirely reliant on lifts, taxis and Dial-A-Ride. For some of these people, Dial-A-Ride and taxis are all that stands between them and being housebound. The needs of these people are almost totally disregarded in the Plan: Taxicard, Capital Call and Dial-A-Ride funding has been frozen or cut and no plans for improving the service are mentioned. There is no doubt that in the past year, changes to door-to-door service funding have increased isolation in the capital.

Being able to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life – including public life, family life and work – are rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. Disabled and older Londoners are being prevented from enjoying these rights because of inaccessible transport.

Money spent accessible transport is money well spent: it benefits shops and businesses which are currently unreachable to people with limited mobility; it opens up employment opportunities currently closed off to disabled people. When more people can use transport, the economy benefits. Almost everybody will suffer from limited mobility at some point in their lives: a real commitment from TfL to tackling inaccessible transport would benefit us all.

In the past five years, there have been improvements in access to London’s transport. On bus audio-visual announcements have made travel easier for deaf and visually impaired people. The increase in the number of stepfree stations has opened up more parts of London. And more people have benefitted from travel mentoring. These are not insignificant achievements. But we are nowhere near to a transport system which provides equal access to all.

Every day, Transport for All hears from disabled and older people about stressful, complicated journeys on London’s transport; or journeys not taken because the hassle is too great. The draft Mayor’s Transport Accessibility Strategy Implementation Plan fails to adequately address the scale of the problem. We urge TfL to ensure the final draft of the report will be more ambitious in scope, and commit the Mayor to making London’s transport significantly better for disabled and older people.

Our top five priorities are:

We welcome comments on what you think the priorities for accessible transport should be.