Transport bosses have promised to investigate after complaints about the capital’s Dial-A-Ride service doubled in just 12 months.
The service, which is operated by Transport for London, offers pre-booked transportation for older and mobility impaired Londoners who find it difficult to use public transport and taxis.
Lianna Etkind from Transport for All describes the scheme as “a lifeline” for many users.
TfL bosses last year boasted that: “In Quarter 4, Dial-a-Ride saw complaints at 84 per 100,000 requests, continuing the full-year trend of improving complaint performance over the last five years.”
Despite the talk of “improving” performance, complaints have risen in the past 6 months and now stand at 151 per 100,000 requests.
Ms Etkind said her group would “be raising this increase in complaints with Dial-A-Ride management and urging them to address any barriers that prevent members from fully benefitting from the service”.
One London Assembly member has expressed concern that the increase could herald a return to the “dark days” of 2009 and 2010 when complaints became so high that the Assembly launched an investigation into the scheme’s performance.
Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon said: “Back in 2009 and 2010 after aspects of Dial-A-Ride’s poor service were put under the spotlight by the London Assembly Transport Committee real improvements in the service then started to take place.
“Disabled Londoners who rely on Dial-A-Ride should not have to face going back to those dark days of poor service and people being left stranded.”
TfL says the inability to book a trip is the “main source of complaints” but insists “over 90 per cent” of requested journeys are successfully delivered despite handling 3,054 more trips than last year – a total of 1,355,580 trips.
It also said regular customer surveys scored the service “93 out of 100”.
However Joyce Mamode, Head of Passenger Services at Dial-a-Ride, said managers “are concerned to see an increase in complaints and are working to better understand the reasons behind this.
“This process will include analysing the nature of the complaints and conducting focus groups with our customers.”