Wealth of disabled people’s talent, creativity and knowledge can only be harnessed with good accessible transport, argues TfL
The huge wealth of disabled people's talent, creativity and knowledge can only be harnessed with good accessible transport, TfL set out at its second Access All Areas accessible transport event attended by around 2,000 members of the public today.
The exhibition showcased the latest accessible transport, design and services with the aim of making it easier for people to use the transport network and make the most of everything London has to offer, regardless of disability. The event featured Alan Benson, Chair of disabled people's charity Transport for All, and Deputy Chair of London Travel Watch; Joanna Wooten, Chair of TfL's Independent Disability Advisory Group; Mik Scarlet, Broadcaster, Journalist & Equality Advisor and other prominent figures from across the charity, culture and tech sectors.
TfL's Managing Director for Surface Transport, Gareth Powell, set out how TfL is working to make London a cleaner, safer and more accessible place through encouraging 80 per cent of journeys to be made by foot, cycle or public transport by 2041. A crucial part of this is working with, and for, the 15 per cent of Londoners who consider themselves to have a disability that impacts their day-to-day activities"
At the moment 84 per cent of disabled Londoners report that their disability limits their ability to travel, a figure that TfL is determined to reduce by embedding accessibility and inclusion at the heart of its planning.
Alan Benson, Chair of Transport for All said: `We know that Disabled and Older People face many barriers when travelling on public transport. Being confident and knowing what to expect goes a long way to overcoming those barriers. Access All Areas is an excellent initiative from TfL that gives passengers a relaxed and safe way to explore their travel options."
Gareth Powell said: `The provision of good accessible infrastructure and services is about equality and about social justice and building the city we all want to see. But it also makes economic sense.
`UK-wide, between April and June 2017 the employment rate of disabled people was 49 per cent, significantly lower than the rate for non-disabled people - 80 per cent. That means that there is a vast wealth of talent, creativity and knowledge that we are not harnessing. Inclusive and reliable transport is essential to opening up employment for disabled people and harnessing this potential."
The Mayor and TfL are investing record amounts in making the capital's public transport network more accessible to Londoners. Ninety-five per cent of bus stops are now accessible and, earlier this week, South Woodford became the 78th London Underground station to go step-free.
There are now more than 200 step-free stations across TfL's network. These include: 58 Overground stations, six TfL Rail stations and all DLR stations and Tram stops. Eight more London Underground stations are on track to be step-free by March 2020, with work well under way across London at a further seven.
When the Elizabeth line fully opens, all 41 stations will be step-free from street to platform, with level access from street to train at all of the new central section London stations and at Heathrow and Abbey Wood.
TfL is also investing £2.3bn over five years in a huge programme of work to create streets that are pleasant, safe and attractive, where noise, air pollution, accessibility and lack of seating and shelter are not barriers that prevent people, particularly older and disabled people, from getting around. This includes major transformation work at Highbury Corner, Old Street, Stoke Newington gyratory and other locations.
TfL also continues to make improvements to its other services, including the bus network, which is the largest accessible bus network in the world. Ninety-five per cent of London's bus stops are now accessible, with that percentage having tripled since 2008, when the figure stood at 29 per cent.
These improvements are being made despite TfL having experienced unprecedented cuts to its operational funding from the Government over the last five years. TfL has had to manage the impact of an average reduction of around £700m per year in government grant. Since March 2018, TfL has become one of the only transport authorities in the world not to receive a direct Government operational grant for day-to-day running costs.
In addition, there is currently no certainty of Government capital funding beyond this year. This clearly poses significant challenges for TfL when planning the pipeline of investment London requires to keep the city growing and succeeding.
The Access All Areas exhibition enabled people to discover the latest accessibility innovations demonstrated by transport providers, research groups and businesses. Amongst these were the latest electric bus and taxi, and a driverless car. Attendees met with TfL's Travel Mentors, who offer a free service to help disabled people get around on the network. There were also a number of 'behind the scenes' workshops which gave insights into staff training, and how TfL uses customer feedback to shape its services, including a look at how TfL created the Please Offer me a Seat badge and card.
TfL's new Station Real Time Information App was one of the new tools showcased on the day to improve people's journeys. It enables London Underground station staff to quickly report station incidents that may affect passenger journeys. This may include a lift or escalator going out of service or a station being made exit only. It also allows staff to quickly record members of the public wishing to use TfL's Turn Up and Go service, which offers disabled customers assistance from staff in completing their journeys
Dave Kent, Engagement Officer for Guide Dogs said: `In recent years blind and partially sighted people have truly benefitted from a transit system that continues to grow and mature.
`Journeys made by bus, tube or suburban rail services all now feature audio visual information systems. TfL's commitment to improve the standard of travel experience for visually impaired passengers is reflected in its first class staff training to customer facing staff across all networks'
Joanna Wootten, Chair of Independent Disability Advisory Group (IDAG) said: `Today has been a great opportunity to celebrate and share what's been done so far to make London's transport infrastructure more accessible and inclusive, and learn from AAA visitors what more needs to be done to that all disabled Londoners and visitors can easily travel. After all, disabled people, like everyone else, want to be able to work, rest and play in London, and we can't do that if we can't go places!'
Alan Benson, Chair of Transport for All said: `We know that Disabled and Older People face many barriers when travelling on public transport. Being confident and knowing what to expect goes a long way to overcoming those barriers. Access All Areas is an excellent initiative from TfL that gives passengers a relaxed and safe way to explore their travel options.'
Visitors to AAA were given TfL's redesigned leaflet about accessible travel in London that puts all the accessibility services available to customers in one place, allowing them to plan their journeys easier. The new leaflet is available through the TfL website - www.tfl.gov.uk
- There are now more than 200 step-free stations across TfL's network. These include: 78 Tubestations, 58 Overground stations, 6 TfL Rail stations and all DLR stations and Tram stops
- TfL's Turn Up and Go service is available on the Tube, the London Overground and TfL Rail. It means customers don't need to pre-book assistance for when they arrive at a station. Members of staff are available to offer advice on completing accessible journeys as well as to guide customers on and off trains and to the right platform and/or exit. For wheelchair and scooter users, as well as those unable to navigate large gaps, members of staff are able to help them board and alight trains with a ramp.
- The Real Time Information app is a tool utilised by staff at London Underground stations only. It currently doesn't allow for journeys on the Overground or TfL Rail
Participating charities, not for profits, groups and organisations in the event:
- London TravelWatch
- Guide Dogs
- London Vision
- Transport for All
- Driving Mobility
- Royal Society for Blind Children
- Age UK
- The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions and the Mayor of London's Ambassador for Cultural Tourism
Participating businesses, organisations, academics:
- RDM Group - displayed their driverless vehicle
- Urban Things - presented their ticketless app
- Ethos Farm - presented their Journey PAL
- Thames Clipper - talked about their full accessible river bus services
- National Express - profiled their accessible coaches
- Ideas LTD - presented their accessible counter
- UCL - tested and discussed latest ideas from the PAMELA lab