Tube Journeys Can Take 4 Times Longer For Wheelchair Users

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 25 months ago
Tube Journeys Can Take 4 Times Longer For Wheelchair Users
Photo by Doug from the Londonist Flickr pool

If you're disabled, getting around London's tube network can take four times longer on average than for people with no disabilities.

Research from Muscular Dystrophy UK Trailblazers compared travel times — using Transport for London's own travel planner — for someone with no access requirements and someone who needs total step-free access.

On average, someone with full access needs takes 4.5 times longer to make a journey on the tube. A trip from Paddington to Moorgate, with no access needs, involves hopping on the Circle or Hammersmith and City lines and takes about 20 minutes. If you can't use stairs or escalators, you need to get the tube to Farringdon or Liverpool Street, and then get two buses. This takes about an hour.

Liverpool Street to Bank — one tube stop — takes 14 minutes instead of one minute. Waterloo to Baker Street takes 45 minutes instead of eight minutes. Victoria to Willesden Green takes an hour and 14 minutes instead of 23 minutes. Camden Town to King's Cross takes 21 minutes instead of four minutes.

And where passengers have to get buses, there are even more difficulties to overcome. The report looks at case studies of disabled people travelling in London, and some of the experiences are shocking:

"A bus driver told me I couldn’t get on because a buggy was on board. I said wheelchairs had priority and he said, 'I don’t think so...'." Ravi Mehta, London

"I have been verbally abused by bus drivers and other passengers. One time a bus driver shouted to me, 'People like you shouldn’t be allowed on the bus'." Clare Watson, London

To read the full report, visit the Muscular Dystrophy UK Trailblazers website.

Update: TfL has offered us this statement, from Gareth Powell, London Underground’s Director of Strategy: "More than half of our Underground and rail stations will be step-free by 2018 and the Elizabeth line, which includes 40 step-free stations, will open through central London at the same time — transforming access for disabled Londoners. In the meantime, we offer every assistance possible — with turn up and go services, fully staffed stations with staff trained by disabled people and a wide range of information available to our customers including step-free guides, tips on getting around, and regular updates on our accessibility Twitter feed."

Last Updated 21 April 2016

Melvyn Windebank

On becoming Mayor in 2008 one of the priorities of Boris was to cancel step free schemes already underway and on which money had already been spent .

One of the daftest stations Snaresbrook where just 3 steps prevent disabled access to station and eastbound platform something that could add another station where disabled could enter and leave station if they travelled to Epping stayed on train to go to say Stratford and return to Snaresbrook . Not perfect but there are a number of stations where step free access is only available in one direction only !

Perhaps Londonist could visit Snaresbrook Station and challenge TFL and Mayor why this simple scheme has not been done ?