Residents campaign for better accessibility to London buses
Europe, September 13 2011
UK: People from Lambeth staged a demonstration last week to promote better access for disabled people to London’s buses.
Lambeth residents held placards and chanted for accessible transport outside Vauxhall tube station.
They later travelled by bus to Westminster, where they quizzed a panel of representatives from Transport for London (TfL), TravelWatch and a number of London bus companies about accessibility issues.
Resident Win Pepple, 68, said: “Bus drivers could be more vigilant and patient when a disabled person is boarding or getting off the bus.
“It’s a sorry sight to see a disabled person struggling with a shopping trolley and not being given help or enough time to get off the bus.”
Around 200 older and disabled activists from across London took part in the ‘On the Buses’ campaign, which was organised by Age UK London, the Greater London Forum for Older People and Brixton based campaign group Transport for All.
Lianna Etkind, campaigns and outreach co-ordinator at Transport for All, said bus companies needed to take the issue of accessibility “much more seriously”.
She said: “Thousands of pounds have been invested in making buses physically accessible, yet the behaviour of a minority of bus drivers is still stopping older and disabled people from travelling.
“No one should remain housebound because they’re scared that their next bus trip will result in a broken hip, nor should wheelchair users ever be forced to wait in the rain as bus after bus drives past.”
A TfL spokesperson said: “Ensuring our service is as accessible to all Londoners is a priority for Transport for London.
“London has one of the most accessible bus fleets in the world and an excellent safety record. We carry almost 2.3 billion passengers each year on our 700 routes and travel over 486 million kilometres.
“All our buses are now low floor wheelchair accessible. We also have accessible bus stops.
“Our bus drivers are highly trained and are familiar with all aspects of customer service and the operation of their bus. They are required to check the ramp is working on their bus before they leave the garage. If the ramp is not deploying properly the bus will not go out.
“Quality assurance is carried out on the ramps frequently. Out of a sample size of roughly a quarter of the fleet, just 0.3 percent of ramps were found to be defective – seven buses out of 2200.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss accessibility issues with all sectors of the community but as always we would advise any of our passengers who may experience any problems on our buses to contact customer services so that any issues can be investigated.”