Disabled and older people spoke out angrily today over plans to slash 800 jobs from the capital’s tube network. Transport for London (TfL) has threatened to cut the opening hours of hundreds of ticket offices, leaving much of the tube network inaccessible to those with visual impairments or limited mobility.
Savage cuts of more than 7,400 hours of staffing every week across the network will have a disasterous effect on our freedom and independence. Many disabled people, whether as a result of a visual impairment or a learning disability, are unable to use ticket machines and will be effectively barred from using the Underground.
With an average loss of one job per station, Transport for All fear that the safety of disabled and older people will be severely compromised. Research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that disabled people are four times as likely as non-disabled people to become a victim of crime. With no staff to deter or deal with antisocial behaviour, more disabled people will feel unsafe travelling on the Underground.
Transport for London seem to think that CCTV cameras and automated ‘help point‘ machines are a substitute for trained members of staff. They are not. Every day, London Underground staff help passengers by offering advice on accessible and step free routes; by helping passengers board trains or disembark safely, by lending a hand on stairs and escalators.
Our members rely on an adequately staffed tube system to travel to work, to enjoy the capital’s culture, and to meet friends. Cutbacks to staffed stations will condemn more disabled and older people to becoming housebound and isolated.
Transport for All has written to TfL, urging them to commit to keeping stations fully staffed, and to ensuring that disabled people have the choice to travel safely at all times of day.
Lianna Etkind, Campaigns and Outreach Officer for Transport for All, said: “These cuts show an utter disregard for disabled people’s safety. We are already hearing from disabled people who are unable to find a member of staff at their station, and have been left stranded. To anyone who cares about equality and inclusion, these plans are unacceptable“.
- Have you had experiences of using London Underground with the help of tube staff? Concerned about how you will travel in an understaffed Underground system? Or interested in getting involved in the campaign? Email email@example.com