All bus stops in City of London and Royal Borough of Kingston now accessible
The City of London and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames have become the first two boroughs in the Capital to ensure all their bus stops are accessible.
Transport for London (TfL) has worked closely with the boroughs and other local authority partners to increase the number of accessible bus stops across London as a significant proportion of the Capital's 19,500 bus stops are not on the TfL Road Network (TLRN). Across the TLRN 96% of stops are already accessible - with a target of 99% to be achieved by 2016.
The accessibility criteria means bus stops must include a kerb high enough for a wheelchair ramp to fully deploy and for the step into the bus to be at a reasonable height for older or disabled people to board. It also has a protected 'clearway' so only buses can use the stop and it is free from any street furniture or clutter blocking access to the doors.
Successful partnership working has trebled the number of accessible bus stops in London from 29% in 2008 to 83% today. A £10m investment means that they are on track to meet the Mayor's accessibility target of 95% by 2016.
Scott Lester, TfL's Interim Head of Borough Projects and Programmes, said: `I am delighted that both the City of London and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames have achieved this milestone. We continue to do all that we can to make the Capital's extensive bus network even more accessible, ensuring that our services meet all customers' needs.
`London has the most accessible bus fleet in the world with each of its 8,700 buses low floor, wheelchair accessible and fitted with a wheelchair ramp. On-board audible and visual announcements are also used across our bus and rail networks to help people with sight and hearing loss.'
Janet Cooke, London TravelWatch's Chief Executive, said: `This is great news for bus passengers - congratulations to Kingston and the City of London councils. Buses are the only form of public transport that operate round the clock across all areas of London with fully accessible vehicles. To ensure they can be used properly, buses must be able to reach the kerb so that drivers can use the access ramp. It is good to see councils from both inner and outer London boroughs demonstrate that it is possible to have all their stops accessible and we hope this will act as a spur for others to do likewise.'
Councillor Terry Paton, Kingston Council's Portfolio Holder for Resident Services, said: `Ensuring that disabled people and wheelchair users are able to readily access public transport is a basic right, and I'm thrilled that our borough has reached this important milestone.
`This kind of improvement not only benefits disabled people, but also those pushing prams, people with shopping trolleys, the list goes on.'
Michael Welbank, City of London Corporation's Chairman of the Planning & Transportation Committee, said: `The City of London is committed to ensuring that everyone is able to enjoy living, working, and relaxing in our historic quarter of London. Accessibility for all is important to us and we are delighted this milestone has been reached. It is just one of many steps we are taking to improve the City's accessibility.'
All 8,700 buses in the TfL fleet (apart from a small number of heritage Routemaster buses operating for tourists on route 15) are low floor, wheelchair accessible and fitted with wheelchair ramps. Buses are also able to 'kneel' to pavement level to make it easier for older or disabled passengers to board.
The £18m fund for bus stop accessibility is part of a wider programme, announced by TfL and the Mayor in 2013, that will see hundreds of millions of pounds invested in accessibility improvements across the Capital's public transport network. More than half of Tube and London Overground stations will be step free by 2018.
Around 95% of London residents live within 400 metres of a bus stop, and the vast majority of these can be used by all bus passengers, including wheelchair users.
The iBus system is also fitted to every bus in London. It provides passengers with audio and visual next stop information, which is of particular use to passengers with sight or hearing impairments or anyone who is unfamiliar with London.
Notes to editor
- There are a number of bus stops across London that are currently extremely difficult to make fully accessible or where the cost of doing so is prohibitive. Situations which fall into this category are where the stop is located on common land and not on a pavement, which often means there is no accessible way to get to the stop, or where there are triple kerbs, such as outside the Royal Albert Hall on Kensington Gore, which would mean significant work to the road and pavement to make the stop accessible.
- As part of TfL's accessibility improvement work the remaining five per cent of pedestrian crossings yet to be brought up to accessibility standards will be upgraded with tactile paving, rotating cones or audible alerts by 2016. Further improvements include permanent level access at new stations, permanent raised platform sections, low-floor trains and boarding ramps making getting around the network much easier. By 2016, a third of Tube platforms will have level access by one of these means, up from 15% in 2013.
- Since TfL was formed in 2000 it has invested heavily in London's bus network - resulting in a 69% increase in passenger numbers. London Buses now carry around 2.4 billion passengers a year, which equates to half of all bus journeys made in England. In recognition of the continued need to invest in bus services - with a increase in demand from the city's rapidly growing population - TfL's latest Business Plan has dedicated around £500m to improve the network over the period from 2015/16 to 2020/21.
- This will include funding for over 500 extra buses, which will create capacity for an extra 2.9 million customer journeys each week. There is also an additional £200m which will be invested in supporting the reliability of the bus network at a local level with bus priority schemes. A further £25m will be used to fund customer-focused bus driver training to improve customer service.