The Transport for All campaign, supporters of which have also been involved in HOLT, have raised serious concerns with London Underground’s cuts plan in a meeting with top LU boss Mike Brown.
The campaign writes: “Many disabled and older people, including those with a learning difficulty; visually impaired people and those who are simply unfamiliar with computers could find it difficult or impossible to use ticket machines – especially when making more complicated requests, such as registering a Disabled Person’s Railcard to an Oyster.
“Deaf passengers have voiced fears that the end of ticket offices will make it harder to use the Underground. Michael Theobald, a deaf activist from the Ealing Transport Action Group, said:
‘Ticket offices use the loop system. Without that, a station is a very noisy environment. It is inaccessible. We cannot hear announcements.’
“There are also fears that without the fixed point of a staffed ticket office, visually impaired people will find it harder to locate staff to assist them. At seven busy Central London stations, (Euston, Heathrow, King’s Cross St Pancras, Liverpool Street, Paddington, Victoria and Piccadilly Circus), there will be Visitor Information Centres where a member of staff will offer assistance. Elsewhere, passengers will have to find a member of staff within the station.
“Jeff Harvey, a TfA member from Brent uses the Tube frequently. He said:
“‘Staff not only need to be visible, but they also have to be available to help. I use a power wheelchair and a ventilator. Often I cannot speak loudly and I cannot reach out to operate a ticket machine or swipe my card to open a gate. If a member of staff is dealing with something and isn’t right by the barrier, getting their attention can be difficult for me. With a ticket office, there is always a person in a known location, who I can communicate with.
‘Even now, on occasion, I must wait several minutes for someone to become available to help me get through a gate, or to get a manual boarding ramp. It seems likely that this will happen more often with fewer people. Maybe they will try to be more available, but if I don’t know where someone will be, it is difficult for me to go and find them. I may have to try to recruit other passengers to help me, or to go and look for staff; in other words, to do the customer service staff’s job.'”
Read TfA’s press release here. HOLT will be working with TfA supporters, as well disabled activists from campaigns such as Disabled People Against The Cuts, to raise awareness of the damaging impact LU’s cuts will have on the accessibility of the Tube.