London’s 24,500 bus drivers are to receive further training on the needs of older and disabled passengers, Transport for London has announced.
TfL has teamed up with leading accessibility charities Transport for All and Age UK London to develop a new training programme aimed at improving drivers’ understanding of passengers’ needs.
The capital’s transport body says the training is part of its ongoing commitment to ensure the bus service is accessible to as many users as possible.
All 700 routes in London are served by buses equipped with retractable ramps to aid wheelchair users and next stop audio and visual announcements to assist the hearing or visually impaired.
TfL says 71 per cent of bus stops are fully accessible and it plans to invest a further £18m to increase this figure to 95 per cent by 2016.
The new training regime was launched on Thursday at a public event at which older and disabled passengers, as well as organisations which represent them, had the chance to meet senior TfL managers.
Mike Weston, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: “We understand how important the bus network is to many older and disabled passengers. The fleet is already the most accessible in the UK with low floor wheelchair accessible buses fitted with retractable ramps. We have made more bus stops accessible than ever before and we have even more on the way.
“We also realise it is equally important to invest in bus staff. It is the drivers who are delivering the service and who can make a big difference to passengers who experience challenges using the network. This training demonstrates that a driver taking a little time, using respect and their own initiative, can make all the difference in the world to many older and disabled passengers.”
Sam Mauger, CEO of Age UK London, said: “Age UK London is delighted to have been involved in ‘All Aboard!’, first by raising awareness of the issues and then by working in partnership with TfL to produce the DVD.”
Faryal Velmi, Director at Transport for All, added: “We have lobbied for this to be introduced and believe it will be a powerful resource in educating drivers about the lives and needs of their disabled and older passengers.”