On the 26th January 2015, Transport for London invited our members, supporters and partner organisations to come and share the views of disabled and older bus users on accessible bus stops at TfL’s offices in North Greenwich. This meeting concluded TfL’s consultation on their guidance on making bus stops accessible. As David Field, TfL’s Principal Strategy Planner, reminded participants, TfL has set a target of 95% of the 19,000 London bus stops to be accessible by December 2016.
Transport for All responded to the consultation on accessible bus stop design guidance consultation back in October 2014; you can read our response here. We are generally supportive of the proposals although we are concerned about the dangers that island bus stops present to disabled pedestrians, especially visually impaired people.
Roger, Lambeth member of Transport for All, introduced the meeting. He mentioned that as a visually impaired person, he was tired of stepping out of a bus into a post or litter bin. A lively and passionate discussion followed TfL’s summary of the main areas raised in the consultation. The topics we touched on included audio information, disability equality training for bus drivers, cycling facilities, floating bus stops, bus shelters, Hail and Ride stops, and Kassel kerbs.
During the meeting, TfA’s member Sue mentioned the React system of audio provision at bus stops used in Brighton. TfL answered that the intensity of bus provision in the capital, with buses every few minutes at a stop, made the system unsuitable. The need for tactile paving to encompass bus stops in their entirety was raised, but TfL used the excuse that this would be unaffordable across all bus stops: However they mentioned that this could be looked at on a case by case basis if warranted. Clutter around bus stops was cited as a major problem: often the council is responsible for the poor placement of street furniture. Members also stressed the fact that it is important that information at bus stops such as maps, timetables and route changes is unified and accessible to everyone. At the end of the meeting, it was agree that some delegates from TfA would be invited to a bus garage to engage with drivers on their behaviour.
Transport for All welcomed this meeting. TfL must take disabled and older people’s remarks into consideration – we are the experts on what makes bus stops accessible! We will pay close attention to their conclusions. We also express the wish that this initiative will be followed by similar events in the future. Online consultations are no substitute for face-to-face discussion and sharing of experience.
Questions from participants and TfL’s answer:
There was not enough time for all attendees to have their questions answered. So TfL collected those enquiries and sent us their answers: You can read those below.
Question: What changes will happen to the guidance as a result of the consultation?
Transport for London: A summary of the changes included on this consultation report
Q. Cyclists need to be licenced
TfL. The Mayor has previously stated that he does not support the registration of cyclists because of the unnecessary bureaucratic effort that would result. In addition, any change to the law that would require cyclists to register their bikes, or to carry insurance, would require legislation at a national level and lies outside of the Mayor’s jurisdiction.
Many have suggested that cyclists should enrol in a licensing or insurance scheme in case of third party damage or injury. In fact, road users can actually claim compensation for injury caused by an uninsured person, including cyclists.
Several thousand cyclists are members of cycling groups such as CTC (the national cycling charity) and the London Cycling Campaign (LCC). These groups offer automatic third party insurance for their members should they be involved in a collision with other road users, but there is no practical mechanism for making this compulsory in London.
Q. This guidance is not in a suitable format for people with learning disabilities?
TfL. The guidance is primarily intended as a technical design document. We provide a range of other resources (e.g. accessible guides and maps, travel mentors) for people with learning disabilities, which advise how to use the bus network.
Q. How are people with visual impairments expected to locate bus stops?
TfL. The flag indicates to passengers where they should wait and serves as a marker to drivers to indicate where the bus should stop.
Q. Bus flags should be further away from the kerb for safety
TfL. The position of the flag should be considered as part of an assessment of safety issues at a bus stop. Flags should be positioned at a safe distance from the kerb but should not obstruct pedestrians.
Q. Wheelchair users should be allowed on buses first, currently we have to wait until last by which time the space is full of buggies and we can’t often get on?
TfL. Wheelchair users should be given priority at bus stops. The big red book (driver training manual) states ‘You must keep the front doors closed on two-door buses. This ensures the wheelchair user is given priority access and can board in safety and comfort’.
Q. How is the proportion of accessible bus stops accessed?
TfL. TfL keep a record of accessible bus stops in each borough and this is available on request.
Q. Why are ‘loop signs’ at some bus shelters? There is no sound on T-switches.
TfL. There is currently no audio bus service information provided at bus stops. This may refer to audio advertising information.
Q. I am concerned that Countdown signs which I find really useful are disappearing in favour of ‘Text to 87287’ which costs 20p
TfL. Countdown bus passenger information is currently installed at over 2,500 bus stops across London. There are no plans to reduce the overall number of countdown displays.
Q. Island bus stops are too revolutionary. A speaker mentioned that traffic lanes can be widened at stops which would be better
TfL. The preference is for bus or nearside lanes to be of sufficient width to enable cyclists to pass a stopped bus while staying within the lane. The London Cycling Design Standards, chapter 4, provides guidance on carriageway widths. The working minimum where cyclists and buses can safely pass is 4.5m.
However, drawing on successful examples of similar infrastructure in other cities in Europe, the bus stop bypass can be considered in certain scenarios. These deliver a higher level of service to cyclists whereby they are separated from other traffic on the approach to and exit from the bus stop.
The guidance incorporates potential measures to reduce risks to pedestrians and cyclists in bus stop bypasses.