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Boarding London buses made easier for wheelchair users

Boarding buses in London has become easier for wheelchair users thanks to changes to the ‘New Routemasters’ buses. They’re to become front-boarding only for standard passengers, allowing wheelchair users to get on using the middle doors.

The new changes follow a successful pilot on route 8 that reduced fare evasion without affecting the reliability of the route.

Latest NewsRoutemasters London buses boarding through all doors

The ‘New Routemasters’ (their name since launched in 2018) currently allow boarding through all doors, but this has seen fare evaders deprive London’s transport network of millions of pounds of vital revenue.

Fare evasion on New Routemasters busses costs more than double the rate of other buses, with Transport for London (TfL) estimating that more than £3.6m is lost each year on New Routemasters.

The £100m lost to fare evasion across the whole network every year could fund more than 1,000 additional members of frontline staff or police officers on the network

The current system also means that customers with accessibility needs cannot always board buses first.

Routemasters London buses with front-door boarding only

Early indications suggest that fare evasion dropped by more than half during a trial of front-door only boarding on route 8, with no adverse effect on service efficiency.

The pilot, which started in August, was successful in communicating the change and encouraging people to board through the front doors – reducing fare evasion and improving accessibility.

Boarding using the middle and rear doors on all New Routemasters will be phased out, starting with the routes 55 and 267 on 25 January.

Customers will be advised of the changes to boarding with emails and on-board announcements. Signage will also be changed on buses.

Customers with wheelchairs and pushchairs will continue to be able to board through middle doors.

Additional benefits of front-door boarding only on London buses

The changes will also make using buses in London simpler for all, as boarding arrangements for Routemasters will now be the same as on other London buses.

All drivers have undergone training to improve their customers’ experience, and by boarding at the front, it will be easier for passengers to interact with drivers

Claire Mann, TfL’s Director of Bus Operations, said: “Fare dodging is criminal and unfair, and it deprives London’s transport of the investment it needs. Our successful pilot on route 8 has shown that boarding using the front door only doesn’t delay the service and reduces fare evasion, so we will change all other New Routemasters to follow suit.

“Customers with wheelchairs and pushchairs will still be able to board using the middle doors and will find it easier to access the priority space on buses as – like on other buses – they will be able to use the middle doors to board without having other customers doing so at the same time.”

Are you a wheelchair user who has recently tried the New Routemasters London buses with the front door boarding only? Did it make it easier for you to access the middle doors and disabled seating or were there still some difficulties boarding? Share your experiences in the comments box or on Facebook and Twitter.

By Emma Purcell

Image credit: Martin49 vis Flikr.

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