Dear Leon

Last month I wrote about being late for a meeting because of a bus driver refusing to let me on because there was a buggy in the wheelchair space. He simply kept the doors shut, said the space was “first come first served”, and drove away.

I wrote to Transport for London’s (TfL) customer service centre immediately, but a month later I’ve still had no reply. So, this morning I posted the letter below to Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport for TfL.

Dear Leon:

One month ago today I contacted your customer services team to let them know about a difficult and distressing experience I had while trying to travel on a Number 12 bus from my flat in Peckham to a meeting in Waterloo.

I am a wheelchair user and I was denied access to the bus because the driver failed to ask the person filling the designated space with a pushchair to move and was therefore unwilling to let me on.

Since writing I have attempted to contact TfL using Twitter a number of times and have also contacted Transport for All to share my experience with them. In that time I have had no response whatsoever from anyone at TfL– naturally I have found this extremely disappointing. I am wondering how difficult it is for someone at TfL to send a letter of acknowledgement or reply to a Tweet?

A quick glance at any TfL marketing material will make customers immediately aware of the assertion that “Every journey matters”. I am hoping that this statement does not apply to non-disabled passengers only.

I am contacting you personally now in the hope that I will get a more prompt and comprehensive reply to my original correspondence. I am encouraged to do this because in March of this year you stated:

“We continue to do all that we can to improve in this area and to ensure that our staff and services meet all accessibility needs – reaching the 80% milestone for bus stop accessibility is a significant step. London has the most accessible bus fleet in the world with each of its 8,700 buses low floor, wheelchair accessible and fitted with a wheelchair ramp.”

I am glad that you want to do all you can for wheelchair passengers across TfL’s Surface Transport – this is clearly something you are passionate about.

In my original letter I asked the following two questions:

1) What is TfL’s current policy regarding shared use of the wheelchair/buggy space?
2) How is this information being communicated to drivers?

I would still like detailed answers to these, but in addition I would like to know why I have not to date received any response to my original correspondence or subsequent tweets.

To help guide your response I would ask you to let me know how my initial experience and the total lack of customer service subsequently measure up against the following three Equality Outcomes:

• Improving accessibility across the network
• Improving customer experience through the whole journey approach
• Engagement with our passengers and stakeholders from London’s communities

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

Touretteshero

I copied in a few other people too, including Transport For All and London Travel Watch. Much of London’s rail and tube network is physically inaccessible to me as a wheelchair user. But while the busses are physically accessible, they’re frequently made inaccessible by the decisions of the drivers. This means I can’t rely on buses to get me to where I need to go, on time and without stress.

Just having a ramp doesn’t make something accessible. Inclusion is something that needs to be central to any organisation’s systems and structures, and to the ethos of its staff, before it can claim to be truly accessible.

3 Responses to Dear Leon

  1. Anjiw says:

    Have you had a reply yet TH?

  2. I’ve just had a reply and I’ll write an update post in the next few days. 🙂

  3. Boregasm says:

    I get similar issues where we live (kent), the drivers won’t let me no the buses as my scooter is ‘too big’ (4mph gogo elite (tiny frame, low weight) to get into the space…
    Even though it used to be fine before our local drivers decided that buggies are more important the scooter/wheelchair users…
    Whenever i have mentioned this to people they say "well you already have an engine" BUT my scooter has not the battery power to go from one town to the next, up steep hills, etc…
    I have been left out in the rain at a bus stop with no shelter, because a woman refused to fold up her 4yr olds buggy on a near empty bus so i could use the disabled part for my dying scooter which is not supposed to be out in the rain (i got caught short by the weather)

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