On the 21st September, TfA members gathered together outside Oakwood Tube station to protest over the lack of lifts at London Underground stations. This station has been one of the worst hit stations, with 13 lift closures in July and August alone – that’s once every four days, on average. The stations with the most incidents of lift closures in 2014 were Wood Lane (16), Southfields (14), Oakwood (14), Hendon Central (10), West Brompton (8) and Golders Green (8).
With the support of local Assembly Member Joanne McCartney, we gathered to challenge the surge in lift closures due to staff shortage. As Assembly Members Caroline Pidgeon uncovered, hours of lift closure due to staff shortage this year rocketed by more than 50% on 2013’s figures. Occasions when lifts have been closed due to staff shortage have more than doubled since 2012.
Pat Hansberry, London Underground’s operations director, claimed that the closures at Oakwood were due to recent industrial action, but did not respond to the rise in lift closures due to staff shortage over the last four years.
Millions have been invested in making these stations accessible.Less than one in four Tube stations have stepfree access and on any given day, some of these are closed due to maintenance works and breakages. When, on top of that, avoidable staff shortages shut lifts, it stops disabled and older people being able to get to work, education, and to see friends and family.
What we want
Disabled and older people have three demands to TfL:
- Stop lifts being closed due to station shortage
- Publish data on hours of lift closures annually, so this information is available without having to chase through FOIs
- Publish the taxi policy on the ‘lift out of order’ sign at stations and on the TfL station status website section that shows which lifts are out of service.
Unfortunately, few disabled and older people know that they could be entitled to a taxi when a lift is out of service. According to TfL: “If you arrive at a Tube, TfL Rail or Overground station and the lift is unavailable, staff will help you to plan an alternative journey to your destination. 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.”
Next week, TfA will meet Mark Evers, director of Customer Service at Transport for London, together with Assembly Members Val Shawcross and Caroline Pidgeon, and ask what TfL plans to do to tackle the rising hours of lift closures die to staff shortage.
TfL staff have told us that lifts are closed when there aren’t enough staff trained to deal with lift operation in the case of a fire.
We believe that there is no justification for stopping disabled people being able to access a station because of the risk of fire. Every day, in buildings across the land, disabled people use lifts despite there being no staff with this particular fire training. Furthermore, the risk of a disabled person needing to use the lift at the same time as a fire is so low as to be negligible.
For many disabled and older people, working lifts are essential for everyday travel as they are the only way of accessing Tube stations without using steps