Broken lifts on London Underground left disabled and older people unable to use ‘step-free stations’ for a over 9000 hours in 2013, figures have revealed. This is in addition to the 500 hours that lifts were closed to older and disabled people due to staff shortages, and further unplanned closures due to emergency cleaning.
The startling figures were released as a result of questions to the Mayor of London by Caroline Pidgeon AM, a member of the London Assembly Transport Committee, after three month’s of delay.
The worst-hit station was Westminster, where lift failures on 99 occasions left the station without full stepfree access for 2073 hours last year. It is disgraceful that access to Westminster those with reduced mobility – including anyone with a buggy – is so hit-and-miss: Westminster is the heart of British democracy as well as a major tourist hub and disabled people are being locked out.
Worryingly, the stations along the Jubilee Line, which is the newest Tube line, appear to be particularly badly hit by frequent lift failures.
Other stations along the line with regular lift closures include:
- Stratford – 1842 hours
- Wembley Park – 1414 hours
- Canada Water – 963 hours
- Green Park – 607 hours
- London Bridge – 488 hours
- North Greenwich – 393 hours.
The knock-on effect on older and disabled people’s lives can be ruinous: a broken lift can stymie our ability to travel to work; to have a night out with friends or to just be able to plan a family outing.
TfL need to start taking disabled people’s right to travel much more seriously and get these lifts fixed fast.
Right now, Kilburn station is barred to anyone who can’t manage steps for four months and Waterloo for five months. TfL would not leave a stairway impassable for five months – so why are they leaving disabled people unable to use their local station for so long?
TfL must publicise the taxi policy alternative
TfL’s taxi policy states that “If there isn’t a reasonable alternative route, we’ll book you a taxi (at our cost) to take you to your destination or another step-free station from where you can continue your journey“.
But it’s the biggest secret on London Underground, hidden in a corner of TfL’s website, despite the fact that older and disabled people are disproportionately not online. If a lift is broken, many people just cancel their journey and stay at home. While all London buses are wheelchair accessible, wheelchair and scooter users can find it well nigh impossible to get on at rush hour, when buses get horribly crowded.
We would like TfL to display the taxi policy much more prominently, including posters at every station where a lift is broken.
Click here, to read the article published in the Evening Standard (11th March 2014)