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TfA gives evidence to the GLA Transport Committee

Transport for All

On July 8th the GLA Transport committee discussed...

On July 8th the GLA Transport committee discussed the impact of Overcrowding and the Tube Upgrade Programme on Londoners and the Capital’s businesses.

The Upgrade programme is designed to renew the Underground’s ageing track and signalling infrastructure – and when completed by 2020 is promised to increase the capacity on the Underground by almost 30%.

Although much of the work is done overnight – significant weekend closures are deemed necessary to ensure the Upgrade programme is delivered on time. This has however caused much disruption – with entire or part line closures of the Victoria and Jubliee line in particular a regular occurrence.

It seems that the disruption is a bitter pill – that must be tolerated if we are to see improvements on the Underground. However 2020 seems like a long way away!

Representatives from entertainment venues like the O2 and EXCEL told the committee that the Upgrade programme has been particularly disruptive to their respective business. The regular closure of the Jubliee Line – and with it North Greenwich station – has resulted in the 02 having to lay on river boats and coaches to transport people to and from its venue – at its own expense.

Both venues cited that they would like more notice of closures and more of a say as to when the closures and Upgrade work take place

TfA Director Faryal Velmi was invited to the meeting to discuss the particular impact both the Upgrade programme and overcrowding has on disabled and older people.

She started off by expressing the disappointment at the news that TfL and the Mayor of London had cut back Step Free access plans for the Underground. Details of step free access being cut can be read here. For many disabled people the light at the end of the Upgrade tunnel was a step free foundation network of Tube stations. However a large number of stations have had their step free status ‘deffered’ – and now the ‘funded promise’ is 29% of the Tube network step free by 2018.

Faryal also mentioned the fact that replacement buses that were operated when Line closures were taking place were very often not wheelchair accessible. This rendered them inaccessible for wheelchair users in particular but also posed an obstacle for those who needed step free access. Buses were also often located a distance away from the Tube station.

The need for clear, accessible information regarding alternative travel arrangements was also raised as a pressing concern.

In regards to Overcrowding on the Underground, TfA reflected on the fact that many disabled and older people tried to avoid travelling on Tube at rush hour. This was largely due to the bad experiences people had in not being able to sit down – or to even reach a seat at Peak rush hour times. Faryal cited that the Priority Seating areas need to be better enforced to enable access to the Tube at these times.

The experiences of wheelchair users who used the Tube at rush hour times was similar to that of other passengers. Pushing yourself seems to be the only way to get on the train!

The Committee announced an in-depth investigation into Overcrowding on the Underground that would gather a wide range of London Underground Passenger experiences. It has requested extra funding to conduct a series of focus groups with a range of Tube users. TfA hopes to work with the Committee in the coming months on this issue – and other areas the Committee has focused its interest on like Dial-a-Ride.

Report on Overcrowding and the Upgrade Programme by the GLA Transport Committee.

A man standing in front of a painted brick wall smiling at the camera. He is holding a cane and is wearing glasses, a black jacket and a grey t-shirt. A man standing in front of a painted brick wall smiling at the camera. He is holding a cane and is wearing glasses, a black jacket and a grey t-shirt.

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