Dial-a-Ride users haven’t always been happy with the service offered but even the most cynical of the scheme’s users might have expected to be able to get through to its dedicated feedback line.
Members of the Dial-a-Ride service, intended to make life easier for the capital’s disabled “who can’t use buses, trains or the Tube”, were recently told of changes to the service’s contact numbers including a new number for anyone wanting to give feedback on the service: 0207 466 0251.
The number is listed on the TfL website as well as in a letter recently sent to users but despite the letter stating it would be in force “from Monday 26 October” the number doesn’t currently work.
The service has a history of user dissatisfaction, earlier this year 40 per cent of respondents to a survey conducted for the London Assembly’s Transport Committee rated the service as poor or very poor. Boris Johnson has since said “performance is continuing to improve” and told Assembly Members that future efforts will be focussed on increasing the number of journeys provided “rather than to simply reduce the refusal rate.”
The 2007 TfL Investment Programme listed “reducing trip refusals from 99,000 to 45,000 a year once MDTs [Mobile Data Terminals] come into operation in a fully centralised scheduling and booking system” as a projected outcome of additional investment in the service. However official figures show that the overall refusal rate increased from 9.0% between 1st April 2007 to 31st March 2008 to 10.3% between 1st April 2008 to 31st March 2009. During the same periods the number of requested rides increased from 1,405,312 to 1,497,575.
A meeting of Transport for London’s Surface Transport Panel scheduled for next week will include a discussion of proposals put forward by London Councils, the pan-London body which represents the capital’s boroughs and co-funds the Taxicard scheme with TfL.
The proposals include the transformation of Dial-a-Ride “into borough bus-based services managed and operated either by boroughs or sub-regionally with a concept of integration with Adult Social Services and Children’s Special Educational Needs transport.”
An agenda paper for the meeting says TfL “will work with London Councils to establish the viability of their proposals. A paper will also be prepared for the Mayor to outline the current status of door to door services in London.”
Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson and Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon commented: “if the Mayor simply ensured that Dial-a-Ride users were listened to he would not make the insulting claim that Dial-a-Ride’s service is continuing to improve.”
Transport for London failed to respond to enquiries on the status of the feedback line.