Transport for London have asked the public to tell them what they think about plans to put less buses on London’s roads.
Transport for London say that more people are using the tube instead of buses, but with 85% of stations in Central London inaccessible to wheelchair users, the change would mean using more expensive and polluting forms of transport, such as London’s famous black cabs or UberWAV.
These more expensive forms of transport may not be sustainable options for many, given Access to Work no longer fund taxis for those who have a Motability vehicle, and Blue Badges cannot be used to park in much of Central London.
With an estimated 50,000 wheelchair users living in Inner London, and many more commuting or visiting regularly for work or tourism, the removal of bus services in key areas would render some areas of London near impossible to reach on public transport. Current step-free provision would be unlikely to cope with increased numbers of disabled passengers without significant investment in improving access to nearby stations.
Transport for London need to build a transport system that works for everyone living in, working in, and visiting London.
Perhaps if the number of non-disabled people using the buses on these particular routes has reduced, new buses could be designed with accessibility as a focus, not an afterthought. AV information systems, and spaces to accommodate a greater number wheelchair users and parents with buggies, with fold up seats for when the spaces are not in use. If a system were designed around the needs of the people using London’s transport system, there would be less conflict over who gets “the space” (I recently spoke to a former London bus driver who regularly dealt with frayed tempers and had even had to break up fights for “the space”).
If you live in London, work in London, or visit London, please tell TfL what you think here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/west-end-bus-changes/
You can also email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like me to pass on your comments without giving your name.
By Fleur Perry