London’s new mayor has announced a significant increase in investment in making stations on the capital’s largely-inaccessible tube network step-free.
At present, only 70 of 270 stations on the London Underground network are step-free to all platforms.
But Sadiq Khan, who was elected as Labour mayor of London in May’s election – following eight years of Tory rule under Boris Johnson – promised this week to spend £200 million by 2021-22 on making at least 30 more stations step-free.
He said this would be the “biggest boost to step-free access on the Underground in the network’s 153-year history”.
His office said that TfL would use “the latest technology and knowledge from the wider transport industry to speed up the delivery of making the world’s oldest network more accessible”.
In his election manifesto, he had promised “a more ambitious approach to step-free access in London Underground and TfL-run stations”.
Faryal Velmi, director of the user-led charity Transport for All, which campaigns for accessible transport in the capital, welcomed the new funding.
She said: “Transport for All is delighted that the mayor has announced plans to direct funding into making our Underground network more accessible for disabled and older Londoners.
“We look forward to 30 more stations being made step-free over the next five years as this will unlock parts of the Underground that have been unusable for us since the tube was created.
“A more accessible tube will mean more travel options and greater opportunity for us to enjoy our great capital city.”
The mayor said: “As part of making London’s transport system one of the very best in the world, we must ensure it is accessible for all Londoners.
“It’s simply not right that for people with disabilities, parents with young children and many older people, many of our stations are still very difficult to use.
“I promised in my manifesto that we needed to be more ambitious with our approach to step-free access, and today I’m confirming that £200 million will be invested on the Underground over the next five years.
“We’re also announcing plans to bring forward the delivery of step-free access at outer London stations at Harrow on the Hill and Newbury Park.
“Work is now set to get underway at these busy stations next year.
“As part of building a modern and affordable transport system, I’m determined to make sure all Londoners can get around London safely and easily.”
Ruth Owen, chief executive of the disability charity Whizz-Kidz, and herself a wheelchair-user, said: “Public transport is a lifeline for disabled people, but we know that accessibility can be a major barrier for wheelchair-users who, like anyone else, just want to get from A to B.
“We therefore warmly welcome the mayor of London’s plans to invest in making the Underground more accessible, and his clear commitment to making the city more inclusive for the many disabled people who live and work there.”