On the buses

An activist at the Day of Action in Camden

On Tuesday 6 September, Age UK London, Greater London Forum for Older People and Transport for All held a Day of Action as part of  its On the buses campaign. At 10.30am, 200 older and disabled activists from across London gathered at four meeting points – at Vauxhall, Liverpool Street, Camden Town and Marylebone stations – to board buses to Westminster.

The aim of the bus ride was to raise awareness of the barriers older and disabled people face when travelling by bus in London, and to demand that older and disabled people are able to use buses with the same freedom and independence as everyone else.

The Day of Action is over, but the fight for better, more accessible bus travel in the capital continues. Here are some simple actions you can take to help improve the situation:

1. Complain!
Every complaint lets TfL and bus companies know when they are failing older and disabled passengers and strengthens the case for the changes which will make buses more accessible.

If you are let down by a transport provider, phone Transport for All’s Advice and Advocacy line on 020 7737 2339. Transport for All represents older and disabled transport users and will take up your case with TfL and with the bus (or train) company. Recording the time, place and route number of your incident will make it easier for us to take up your complaint.

2. Organise a bus access event in your local area
Together with your Transport Action Group, pensioners group or disabled people’s organisation, organise an event bringing together transport providers with your members. Your local paper might be interested in attending too. This can be an excellent way of raising concerns about local buses. Some groups have organised visits to their local bus garage – speak to yours and see if they are open to this. You could undertake a local survey of driving practices on your local bus routes. Or you might wish to hold a demonstration at a particularly inaccessible bus stop in your area.

3. Respond to the Mayor’s Transport Access Strategy Implementation Plan
The Mayor’s plan for making London’s transport more accessible is currently under consultation. You have until the end of October to respond. The current document makes no reference to the issues of allowing people time to sit; ensuring buses come right into the kerb; enforcing priority for wheelchairs in the wheelchair bays; and broken ramps. Nor does it mention TfL’s decision to cut their target for making bus stops accessible, from 75 per cent by 2017 /2018 to 65 per cent.

4. Take a bus journey with your London Assembly Member or MP and the press
Inviting your political representatives on a bus journey is a fantastic way of demonstrating the reality of travel for disabled and older Londoners.

Let me know if you have any more innovative ways of campaigning! Thanks.

alicewoudhuysen

recently joined Age UK London as Communications and Campaigns Officer. A trained journalist, Alice spent three years working in legal publishing, as a writer and editor, before entering the charity sector. She worked as an intern on Macmillan Cancer Support's flagship fundraising event, the World's Biggest Coffee Morning, and then worked as Communications Officer for Guy's and St Thomas' Charity. You can contact Alice on 020 7820 6778 or awoudhuysen@ageuklondon.org.uk

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2 Responses to On the buses

  1. This is a great campaign as genuinely accessible buses have been a subject of great concern to older and disabled people for a long time. One of the biggest problems is driver training and attitudes – pulling away sharply before people have had a chance to sit down, or braking suddenly when it shouldn’t really be necessary (good driving involves looking ahead and anticipating problems). And for all those other passengers who think waiting a few moments for someone to reach a seat is a nuisance, just remember that a)you probably aspire to getting old one day (few people want to die young) and b) improvements in the quality of the ride benefit everyone!

  2. Age UK London has also published an “On the Buses” report together with Transport for All and Greater London Forum for Older People. We surveyed whether people have time to sit down before the bus pulls away, whether buses pull right up to the kerb at the bus stop and a range of accessibility issues including whether the ramp was working and whether the driver intervened if buggies were blocking the wheelchair space. For example, of over 1000 journeys surveyed over 40% did not give people time to sit down before the bus left, and 25% did not pull right up to the kerb. A surprising number also reported that the ramp was not working. If you want to read the report, go to:

    http://www.ageuk.org.uk/BrandPartnerGlobal/londonVPP/Documents/ID111566%20London%20Transport%20Report%20FINAL%20LR.pdf

    We got really valuable help to do the survey from volunteers from Hill & Knowlton as well as members of Sutton Seniors’ Forum and other older people’s forums.