Transport For All Describes Tube Plan To Replace People With Machines As Living In La-la-land

Transport For All; the charity campaigning for a fully accessible, reliable and affordable transport network for disabled and older Londoners has written to the Evening Standard describing the horror that disabled and older passengers will feel over tube bosses plans to cut staff.

Transport For All describe it as living in la-la-land to think cctv and ticket machines is a suitable alternative to station staff for the 43% of wheelchair users who have suffered hate crime on the tube, or the 29% of disabled people who feel unsafe using the underground.

The Letter

Dear Sir

Disabled and older passengers will be horrified to learn of London Underground’s dangerous plans to cut staff from Tube stations. Thousands of disabled and older passengers rely on station staff to help us travel safely and independently. Many of us – particularly visually impaired people and those with a learning impairment - simply cannot use ticket machines.

Every day, LU staff help disabled people to plan accessible journeys; buy tickets; negotiate ramps and escalators and navigate stations. This assistance is essential to our ability to participate in London life. Without it, many of us would struggle to travel to work; see friends and family; and get out and about in the capital.

Already, Transport for All hears regularly from blind and visually impaired people left stranded when overworked members of Tube staff are not able to help them to the right platform. Wheelchair users were delighted when TfL introduced 35 manual boarding ramps to overcome the gap between train and platform – but without staff, these are useless. And last year, there were over fifty occasions when Tube lifts were closed because of staff shortages, leaving mobility impaired passengers unable to use their local station.

Research by Survation last year found that 43% of wheelchair users have suffered hate crime or abuse on a train or at a station; and more than a quarter (29%) of disabled people have felt unsafe or threatened at stations. If TfL think that ‘Help Point’ machines and CCTV cameras can replace trained, visible staff in preventing hate crime, they are living in la-la land.

During the 2012 Games, the Tube did London proud in enabling disabled athletes; volunteers and spectators to travel with freedom. The Mayor must rescind these cuts which risk turning the clock back on our right to travel with freedom and independence. Otherwise, his claims of ‘Paralympic legacy” will be a mockery.

Lianna Etkind
Campaigns and Outreach Co-ordinator
Transport for All