Have your say on fewer buses and the need for more changes in central london
Transport for London are currently consulting on reducing the frequency of buses in Central London and changing the route, and terminus of others. This is bad news for disabled people due to the lack of alternative accessible transport options in the city.
Many journeys across London already require disabled people to change buses, however adjustments to the line of route, and shortening of the routes will make bus changes, and lengthy waits in the dark, cold and rain far more likely. Routes like 73 from Stoke Newington to Victoria and 390 Archway to Victoria are examples of routes that would be affected by these changes.
In particular, getting from Euston and Kings Cross to parts of London where there is no accessible tube service is a major issue and in zones 1 and 2 – much more difficult.
Transport for London are justifying this planned change as they claim more people are using the tube. This is not an option for disabled people as only 15% of Central London tube stations have step-free access and often not to all lines/directions. Central London stations which still do not have step-free access include numerous major hubs such as Bond Street, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road, Vauxhall, Victoria, Euston, and Charring Cross.
Further, despite promises from TfL and the Mayor of London, that the closure of ticket offices would improve services for disabled travellers up to October 2016 the number of lifts being out of service due to staff shortages increased by a massive 118% compared to the previous year. In some cases lifts were closed for 20 hours.
TFL state in their consultation that the opening of the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) will reduce the need for buses. However, given the issues with acceptable levels of staffing at existing stations to provide lifts, and the fact that Crossrail will not be level from the platform to the train, requiring a bridging ramp, can disabled people trust that they will be able to access the new line’s services?
On top of all of that there are often planned closures of lifts for maintenance work lasting months and with no alternative usable tube stations nearby.
In most areas of central London Blue Badges cannot be used so disabled drivers are unable to park there. For those in work with a Motability vehicle who might need to travel into central London for work by taxi due to the lack of parking available this too is no longer an option as Access to Work will no longer provide taxis for those who have a Motability vehicle – not even so they can work.
At peak time, buses are often delayed due to traffic, or are so full that drivers refuse to allow wheelchair users onboard, meaning commutes are harder, longer and more arduous for disabled people.
These proposals risk causing disabled people more difficulties accessing the community, their places of work, and will reduce their ability to undertake leisure activities.