Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Disabled access to tube stations

Clapham Common Tube Station Platforms
Disability Politics UK point out (via Twitter) that 75% of tube stations still do not have step free access. It's not something I'd thought about, since I no longer live near London (and I tend not to use the tube anyway since I was molested there when I was 16, but that's a whole other story), but as a part-time wheelchair user and full-time struggler with steps, I find that information very disconcerting indeed.

It certainly means, for example, that if I wanted to cross London on the way to or from any other part of the country, I - or anyone else with similar difficulties - would be unable to use the tube (or probably any other form of public transport).

This is hardly news, of course, but things don't appear to have improved in the last four years:
Getting around in a wheelchair on the Tube network can be a challenge at best, a bitch at worst. Retrofitting lifts and other facilities into London's aged underground network is not easy. Transport for London recently had to abandon work on upgrading several stations when the costs became prohibitive.
Around a quarter of Tube and DLR stations have step-free access, and TfL produces special network guides to help passengers plan their routes to these stations. But that's not the full story. Some stations might have perfectly jolly lifts, but the gap between train and platform will stymie some wheelchair users. Other stations — Earl's Court, for example — have accessible platforms in one direction but not the other. TfL makes a stab at explaining these anomalies, but the maps can get devilishly complicated.
So much for accessibility? It also makes a mockery of the DWP's idea that barriers somehow evaporate for disabled people once we have the use of aids such as wheelchairs. That is so not true, as I am learning more and more every day. 

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