Come on board

London’s transport system has changed beyond recognition over the last two decades. Are you getting the most out of the steps Transport for London (TfL) has taken to make it more accessible? 

Customers are at the heart of TfL’s service. If you have a Freedom Pass or a 60+ London Oyster card you can travel for free, or at a discounted rate, on all TfL services, 24 hours a day. Trained staff are on hand to help; you don’t have to book in advance.

This year, all of London’s 24,500 bus drivers will receive refreshed training in how to serve disabled and older customers, including how to help wheelchair users access the priority space.

All buses are able to kneel to reduce the step-up. Drivers are expected to pull in close to the kerb and they should also make sure passengers have time to hold on or sit down before moving away. All buses and most trains now have designated wheelchair spaces and clearly marked priority seats.

Step-free access is available at one in four Tube stations, half of London Overground stations, across the whole Docklands Light Railway, the tram network and every single London bus route. TfL is also working hard to put in more lifts, ramps and level infrastructure meaning it’s easier to access the platform, and avoid steps and gaps when boarding.

TfL’s Travel Support card helps people communicate any assistance or information requirements they have with staff. Their specialist Travel Mentoring team offers advice on planning journeys and their Mobility Aid Recognition Scheme helps anybody with a mobility aid who wishes to use their buses.

For those who can’t use public transport, London has door-to-door services such as Dial-a-Ride, community transport, and subsidised taxis. If you hold a valid Blue Badge, you’re eligible to register for a 100 per cent discount for the Congestion Charge, even if you don’t own a vehicle or drive.

On street, almost all London’s pedestrian crossings are accessible, with tactile paving, audible signals and/or rotating cones on the push-button units. An increasing number now have Pedestrian Countdown systems to show how much time is left to cross the road.

London is growing and, to meet increased demand, the transport system is constantly improving. It’s important to plan your journeys ahead to avoid any disruption. TfL’s online Journey Planner helps you do this, clearly stating which stations are step-free and which have steps and stairs, to help you choose the best option.

They also produce a range of maps and guides, including the Step-Free Tube guide, Tube Toilet map and large print, black and white and audio versions of the Tube map. These are available to order online or through their call centre, which provide local rate travel advice. Audio and visual information is used across their bus and rail services, so you’ll always know the status of your service.

It’s a great sign that more and more older and disabled people are travelling by public transport. TfL knows there’s more to do, but they want people to have the information and confidence to start using, or use more of, the transport options currently available.

Find out more by visiting; calling 0343 222 1234; emailing or by following @TfLaccess on Twitter.