Transport for London will miss step-free target


London’s tube network is set to miss its latest target for providing step-free access, after Transport for London (TfL) halted improvements at a series of stations.

Campaigners are angry that the target – to make a quarter of the capital’s 270 stations accessible to wheelchair-users – will not be reached.

In April, mayor Boris Johnson’s transport adviser said 68 stations would be step-free by the end of 2010.

But TfL, which is chaired by the mayor, now says that only 62 stations will be step-free by the end of 2010.

It said it has stopped work to provide step-free access at the six other tube stations because of financial pressure caused by the recession and extra costs resulting from the collapse of the tube maintenance company Metronet.

The previous mayor, Ken Livingstone, had pledged that a third of stations would be step-free by the end of 2013.

TfL has also scrapped its accessible transport magazine, Getting There, which was issued to about 100,000 members of the Taxicard and Dial-a-Ride accessible transport schemes – again in a bid to cut costs.

Faryal Velmi, director of the campaigning accessible transport charity Transport for All, said she was “very disappointed” that the target would not be achieved.

She said promises had “essentially been put aside”, which would “severely impact” on disabled visitors to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A TfL spokeswoman denied that the postponed step-free work would have a negative impact on the 2012 Games.

She said London Underground was “working closely” with the Olympic Delivery Authority on the accessible elements of its transport plan.

She said TfL was focusing on “core projects” that would deliver the mayor’s transport priorities, including the tube upgrade, Crossrail and 2012 preparations.

She said step-free investment was being targeted at “key interchange stations” to “deliver the greatest benefit for the largest number of customers”, with step-free access before 2012 at Southfields and Green Park stations, which will both have “a key role” in the 2012 transport plan.

Other access improvements, such as tactile paving and induction loops, will be added to stations “as modernisations and refurbishments are completed”, while TfL was also replacing and refurbishing its train fleet, she said.

She confirmed that Getting There was being scrapped, and said TfL believed it could provide the information “using less expensive methods”.

23 December 2009

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