In April, RMT's London Transport Regional Council wrote to disabled people's organisations as part of our 'SOS: Staff Our Stations' campaign, alerting them to London Underground's planned job cuts and the difficulties that these will cause to disabled passengers. You can read our letter here. Several organisations representing disabled people have now sent the following letter to Mayor Boris Johnson, opposing the job cuts.
Dear Mr Johnson,
London Visual Impairment Forum (LVIF) Transport for All and Inclusion London are greatly concerned about the proposed staffing cuts for London Underground which, we believe, could seriously undermine the mobility of older and disabled people in the capital.
LVIF comprises voluntary (not for profit) organisations working with, and on behalf of, blind and partially sighted people in Greater London. There are approximately thirty eight local, London wide and national organisations actively involved. There are 39,315 people registered as blind or partially sighted in London, with between 78600 and 117900 others that have low vision but who have not registered.
Transport for All (TfA) – is a pan London disabled and older persons organisation that provides advice, information and advocacy on accessible transport issues. It is recognized that there are approx 1.4 million disabled people in London and over 1 million people aged 60.
Inclusion London is a pan-London disability equality organisation. We provide policy, campaigning and capacity-building support for Deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) in London. Inclusion London promotes equality for London’s Deaf and disabled people. Our work is rooted in the Social Model of Disability and the Cultural Model of Deafness. Inclusion London is a Community Interest Company. We receive funding from London Councils, Big Lottery and Capacity Builders.
We understand, from the RMT’s open letter to TfL and London Underground’s response to this, that cuts to London underground staff have been proposed. Whilst we understand that budgets are tight our concerns centre around the impact on the level of assistance that will then be available to older and disabled people. We are also concerned about the implications for personal security.
Many disabled people rely on assistance from staff in order to safely use and negotiate the system. The need for assistance arises both in normal operating conditions when passengers may need help to use ticket machines, negotiate barriers or access platforms, as well as during periods of disruption and emergencies, when the need for assistance is particularly critical. For example, when services are disrupted staff are needed to provide advice on alternative routes, physical assistance (e.g. escorting to an alternative line) and reassurance, especially when the disruption occurs midway through a journey.
The presence of staff is also important in terms of personal security. Passengers, particularly vulnerable passengers, feel safer if there are staff around on which they can call if needed. The presence of staff may also act as a deterrent to those who would otherwise cause problems on the system.
We believe that the loss of staff will have a significant impact on the lives of London’s residents and commuters. With the Olympics and Paralympics Games only two years away the impact will be even more acutely felt then when there will be many thousands of visitors, including disabled visitors, wishing to use the Underground. Staff cuts now are likely to undermine proposals to increase staff on the Underground during the Olympics and Paralympics.
LVIF, TfA & Inclusion London would therefore call on you and TfL to reconsider these proposals to ensure that disabled and older people can continue to use the London Underground in the future.
(On behalf of LVIF, Transport for All and Inclusion London)