London’s Dial-a-Ride still ‘plagued by problems’


London’s door-to-door transport service for disabled people continues to be “plagued” by “significant problems”, according to a new report.

The London Assembly’s transport committee investigated the performance of Dial-a-Ride – London’s largest door-to-door service, provided free to its 50, 000 members – last year after “many complaints” from users.

Now a follow-up report by the committee says concerns remain around availability, efficiency, the booking process and consultation with users, although overall performance has improved “slightly”.

In a survey carried out by the committee earlier this year, one in four users said the service provided by Dial-a-Ride was either poor or very poor.

The report says the telephone booking service is a “source of frustration” to users, with two thirds of those surveyed saying they had had to wait at least ten minutes for a booking call to be answered, or did not have their call answered at all.

Although some aspects of the service have improved, the service is still providing fewer journeys (1.25 million) than it did in 2001/02 (1.26 million), against a target of 1.4 million.

In its evidence to the investigation, the campaigning accessible transport charity Transport for All said it continued to be concerned that Dial-a-Ride was “seen as the poor family relation” by Transport for London (TfL).

Transport for All said it feared standards could slip further if funding was not increased, and called for more coordination between Dial-a-Ride and London’s community transport sector.

Caroline Pidgeon, deputy chair of the transport committee, called on TfL and the mayor, Boris Johnson, to take action to improve the service.

A TfL spokeswoman accepted there had been problems with Dial-a-Ride, including with the booking system.

But she said: “Dial-a-Ride services are getting better and we are pleased the transport committee report reflects the improvements made in the last year.

“There has been an increase in the demand for the service and last year we completed 76,000 more trips compared to the previous year.”

She added: “Of course we are not complacent and will continue to make improvements to the service.”

She said TfL was awaiting the outcome of a review of door-to-door services being carried out by London Councils, which represents the capital’s local authorities.

The transport committee is also carrying out a wider investigation into how to improve access to public transport for people with mobility impairments, with a report due early next year.

30 June 2010

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