Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert will join Green London Assembly Member, Jenny Jones, and local Lambeth Green campaigners in demanding that the Mayor of London take concrete, positive action to make the city’s transport network accessible for all disabled and older Londoners by 2018. Jean and Jenny will visit Stockwell tube station, currently inaccessible for wheelchair users, this Friday, midday, to highlight the difficulties experienced by those with physical disabilities when using the tube .
The London Underground has 270 stations, yet a mere 63 are step-free from street to platform, meaning older and disabled passengers are left to run a gauntlet of escalators, stairs and uneven surfaces to access the platform. Once there, passengers can be faced with a vertical step-up into the train of as much as 12 inches. TfL claim to be working on installing platform humps to reduce this gap, but currently these are only available at a handful of stations .
Jean and Jenny are calling for at least one third of the tube network to be step-free by 2018 – requiring a minimum of 23 stations to be upgraded so as to be fully accessible over the next six years. In the face of recent tube staff cuts, which saw 650 Customer Service Assistant roles axed, they are also calling on the Mayor to ensure that all tube and overground stations have staff on hand to help older and disabled people at all times, as well as to provide reassurance for passengers late at night.
Speaking before the visit, Jean, a member of the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee and a long-term campaigner for older people rights, said: “London is gearing up for a monumental year with the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee just around the corner, events which will place more pressure on the capital’s transport system than ever before. Yet, many disabled and older passengers are effectively being deterred from taking part in these exciting events, and more importantly, from living a full, independent life, by a tube and rail network that is still largely inaccessible.
“If London wants to continue to be seen as a progressive and welcoming city, a major part of its transport system cannot remain out of bounds to so many. TfL must increase investment in accessibility rather than cut back their step-free targets and reduce the presence of frontline station staff, both of which are vital for a reliable and trouble-free journey for many of London’s passengers.”
Jenny said: “We need to aspire to an inclusive transport system, where no one is prevented from using London’s public transport. In the year that the Paralympics will be held in London, it is shameful that the overwhelming majority of the tube system is still inaccessible to hundreds of thousands of people. This is nothing short of transport apartheid.”
Notes to Editor
1. Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, and Jenny Jones, Green GLA Member, will be at Stockwell Tube station on Friday 23rd March from midday.
2. Platform humps are available on the entire Victoria Line, bar Pimlico, the Waterloo and City Line and London Bridge and King’s Cross on the Northern Line.