The study claimed:
- Only 10 of London’s 270 Tube stations are completely step-free all the way from street level to train.
- Just one third of London’s 300 rail stations have step-free access from street to platform.
- While all London’s buses now have ramps, only half of London’s 17,476 bus stops meet the criteria for full accessibility.
Despite this I still found it easier to use transport in London when I was there 7 years ago, then I did until very recently here. Why with all the claims to history and tradition in the UK was I able to use transport and buildings like I was supposed to be there?
Two London transport moments stick in my memory as defining life moments, catching my first cab right out of St Pancras station – with taxi driver almost traumatised — not because he had to pick me up; but rather because he (the very next cab that came along) had picked me up – I cried for joy for 10 pounds worth, and couldn’t tell him why or where I was going! The second moment was when I could even then catch a bus, any bus I wanted before I had caught one as easily in my homeland. I was floored that nobody looked askance.
I accept that the London tube was then and seems now to be all but useless to a be-wheeled being and am glad to see they are doing something about it as it would’ve useful then, but I get the sense they are working from a rights based mentality, not a “she’ll be right”s based one and that will make all the difference, then, now and in the future.
Why do I get a lovely buzz in my tummy (because it’s so rare) when, even now, here in Australia, the right bus is the first bus that comes along and it’s accessible? After a couple of weeks in London all those years ago, I simple assumed it would work and it did!
The other thing that occurs to me as positive is that the Pommes seem willing through their mainstream media to have the discussion about access based on a report, not based on the case of some poor brave headline making person with impairment. Based on a report on the topic, transport, not the minority, disability.
The Governments here in contrast would if I’m not wrong be claiming that 90% was good enough and such a report would never have elicited this response:
Val Shawcross AM, chairwoman of the transport committee, called the situation “simply unacceptable”.
It isn’t perfect but it’s a start. The right start.
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