Transport for All warmly welcomes the Mayor of London’s announcement today that an additional £200m would be invested over the next five years to increase step-free access on the Tube.
As part of its draft Business Plan, Transport for London (TfL) has committed to making more than 30 additional Tube stations step-free in the next 5 years. This will bring the total number of stations to 100 by 2021/22, representing 40 per cent of the Underground network.
The Mayor of London has said: “As part of making London’s transport system one of the very best in the world we must ensure it is accessible for all Londoners. It’s simply not right that for people with disabilities, parents with young children and many older people, many of our stations are still very difficult to use.
“I promised in my manifesto that we needed to be more ambitious with our approach to step-free access, and today I’m confirming that £200m will be invested on the Underground over the next five years“.
The news represents a real victory for disabled and older activists who have campaigned on the issue of Tube access for many years.
Indeed the last decade has seen a deprioritising of Tube access projects including the former Mayor Boris Johnson cancelling a raft of access upgrades.
Together with our partner organisations we met with the Mayor of London in the run-up to the Mayoral election and spoke about the desperate need to increase the number of accessible Tube stations from its current total of only 70.
We also recently met with the new managing Director of the London Underground Mark Wild and impressed on him the importance of unlocking the Tube for London’s disabled and older citizens. We also spoke about the importance of rolling out manual boarding ramps and the serious issue of lifts being put of service due to staff shortages.
TfA’s director, Faryal Velmi says: “This measure will unlock parts of the Underground that have been unusable for us since the Tube was created. A more accessible Tube will mean more travel options and greater opportunity for us to enjoy our great capital city”.
Faryal added: ”We also urge the Mayor and TfL to urgently direct resources to ensuring that lifts and escalators that enable access are working effectively and that closures are kept to a minimum”. This has been brought into sharp relief recently as TfA has reported a spike in lift closures“.
Harrow on the Hill on the Metropolitan line and Newbury Park on the Central line are the first two stations confirmed today with building work brought forward to 2017.
This announcement comes in addition to major stations such as Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Victoria becoming step-free next year. Two months ago Vauxhall was the 70th station to become step-free. Following a campaign initiated by Transport for All, Crossrail (The new Elizabeth line) will also be fully accessible from the day it opens.
We are now looking forward to discovering the list of the other stations that will become fully accessible by 2021/2022 and the process that will be used to select them. We would urge TfL that they are made fully step free from street to train as denoted by the ‘blue’ wheelchair symbol on the Tube map.