A report from the London Assembly Transport Committee has condemned Transport for London’s (TfL’s) proposals for improving the capital’s accessibility as “too modest“.
The report found that the accessibility of London’s buses, overground trains and London Underground leaves much to be desired. It follows an investigation which drew on the experiences of Londoners with reduced mobility, including older people, disabled people, and parents who use buggies and prams.
Key findings from the report include:
- Only 10 of London’s 61 ‘step-free’ stations are completely step-free, including from platform to train
- There is a mismatch between demand for accessible transport and supply, with a high proportion of people with impaired mobility living in areas with low provision
- The number of Londoners with reduced mobility is set to rise, with a possible 930,000 residents by 2018
- There is a risk that with TfL’s proposals to shed London Underground staff, as well as cut backs to planned step-free access projects at six stations, Tube access is actually set to decline
- Although buses are often cited as the most accessible form of transport, poor bus driver attitudes and inaccessible stops mean many people remain unable to use them
The report also criticised TfL for failing to include disabled people at an early stage of consultations.
The report makes recommendations to TfL on improving accessibility, with, crucially, a deadline of June 2011 for fulfilment. Key recommendations for TfL include:
- Developing a physical accessibility strategy in consultation with people with reduced mobility and relevant organisations
- Extending the travel assistance scheme to another 1,500 people
- Allowing the use of manual ramps at Overground and Tube stations where possible
- Introducing a minimum set of criteria for accessibility features at stations
- Putting in place a network of ‘accessibility champions’ at interchange stations, to work across transport modes and operators
- Involving disabled people in practical disability training for bus drivers
- Exploring the provision of more flip-up seats in the new buses to provide more space for wheelchairs
The report also highlights that there are a number of relatively inexpensive, simple steps that can be taken which would have a big impact on disabled people’s ease of travel. Things like improved maps; displaying bus drivers’ ID badges to make it easier to report incidents and introducing raised kerbs at taxi ranks are low cost, but could go a long way in improving accessibility.
Transport for All welcomed the report.
“What is clear from this report is that TfL is failing to provide for people with mobility difficulties. The battles that disabled and older Londoners face every time they want to use the bus or train are not an inevitable part of being old or disabled: they are the result of TfL’s continued foot dragging in upgrading to a modern, accessible transport network fit for purpose.
‘Public’ transport, when at least one in ten Londoners can’t fully use it, is not truly public. TfL’s plans for improving accessibility are currently not equal to the task of providing for the demographic changes we’ll see in London over the next twenty years.
Transport remains one of the biggest factors in excluding disabled people from playing a full part in public life and enjoying everything that London has to offer. We look forward to hearing TfL’s response to the report, and urge them to take up the recommendations.”
The report, and a short video about it, can be found here: