Europe Oct 23, 2011
Transport for London’s (TfL) plans to improve accessibility on the transport network are on the right track, but more urgency and focus is required to give people with mobility an easier ride on the capital’s Tubes, trains and buses.
The London Assembly Transport Committee’s response to TfL’s accessibility proposals draws on the Committee’s own report, which showed that step-free access and other accessibility measures fall far short of the growing need for them.
At present, only around one-quarter of Tube stations and a third of London’s rail stations have step-free access from street level to platform, and only half of all bus stops are fully accessible. TfL needs to address this shortfall as quickly as its funding allows.
Recognising the pressure on TfL’s budget, the Committee urges it to prioritise investment in the parts of London where most people with reduced mobility live, at interchange stations, and in low-cost measures like allowing manual ramps, upgrading pedestrian crossings, and better bus driver training.
“When it comes to accessibility, TfL needs to focus its energies and funding to maximise the benefits of improvements,” Caroline Pidgeon AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, said.
“As we have said before, improvements do not need to be expensive. They can be as simple as training bus drivers to give people with disabilities or elderly people enough time to sit down before driving off, or letting people in wheelchairs use manual ramps at stations.
“People with mobility disabilities who use public transport know the issues best so it’s important that TfL consults passengers to help target its resources where it will make the most difference.”
The Committee recommends that TfL’s online Journey Planner and its accessibility maps are improved and streamlined in consultation with the people and groups who use them.
TfL should also make training for staff — particularly bus drivers – more practical, and more clearly publicise who is entitled to use accessibility bays on buses or priority seats on trains.