How ICT has Helped Public Transport in London Adapt to those with Mobility Difficulties Essay

This essay will be explaining how ICT has progressed in recent years to help those with disabilities or certain impairments. The main focus point of this essay will be how public transport has adapted to suit these peoples needs.

First let us define disability, “made unable to do something because of illness or injury” [1]. Here is what most people think disabled people are only those that are retarded or people that have to sit in a wheelchair. They are not entirely right a disability can be seen in different shapes or forms. Yes, those in a wheelchair are the main group of disabled people but those who have had injuries in certain areas or that have diseases can also be considered disabled.

When double-decker buses were first introduced in this country in the early 1900’s they were not suited for those with mobility problems, mainly the ones that ran through London like the 88. That runs through Acton Green [2]. The buses had quite a high step to get on and a narrow passageway down the middle. None of these would have been suitable for a disabled person to get around. This didn’t matter much then because the car industry had rocketed. But when the industry plummeted again buses became the source of transport in around London. This meant that those disabled few that could drive or had people to drive them would find it harder to get into London via car. This meant that buses and other forms of public transport would have to be used to get into London.

Even before public transport started to think more about the disabled on public transport there were smaller services that did help the disabled and elderly like “dial-a-ride”. This company has been doing journeys for the disabled and those with mobility problems for 21 years [3]. They have a simple system which has worked over the years. Using lifts on the back of the vans to elevate the people into it.

The Dial-a-ride company says, “Dial-a-Ride is a members’ service providing door-to-door transport for people with permanent or long-term disabilities. It can be used for all sorts of journeys such as shopping, medical appointments and social occasions”. [4] This is what has made the company so useful and prosperous. This company has helped many people get around London safely.

Recently TFL have taken over the Dial-a-ride service and created a new service for the disabled with the taxicard system. This system is for disabled people to get around London using a black cab. All the user needs is a taxicard which is kind of like a bus pass. They can either order the Taxi or hail one.

These taxis aren’t available all of the time and neither is the dial-a-ride, so if the worst happens the disabled person will have to get a public bus. Over the past three to four years nearly al public buses have been revamped and fitted with customizations to accommodate disabled people. They have produced a part of the bus with simple instructions on how to assemble themselves next to it. Also at the exit of the bus a ramp is situated under a panel in the floor. When the person in the wheelchair wants to get on the bus the driver lowers the ramp so that it rests on the pavement so that the person can get on the bus. If the person needs assistance they should ask the bus driver to help them. When getting off the bus there is a special button with the disabled sign on it and when they press this for the next stop the bus driver will lower the ramp for them to get off the bus.

Other aspects of public transport haven’t really got the facilities to accommodate people in wheelchairs trains and tubes will find it hard to accommodate this. The DLR has the lifts onto the platform which could be used by those in a wheelchair although on the carriages there is not enough space to accommodate one.

The information for any of these services is also very easy to get hold of using sources such as the internet; teletext and ringing any numbers the services may have given them. Some sites on the internet give specific times of when a certain mode of transport will arrive at the place that you are going to. Sites like http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/planmyjourney/time_table/journey_requirements.asp?&T2ID=9754_2004626193844 tell you when you can catch a train from any destination you want from anytime. All you have to do is enter what station you are leaving from, what station you are going to and then the time you wish to leave the station. It will when take you to a page where it will give you the times of trains and what stations they go through. Things like these help the

Person in a wheelchair even more.

In conclusion TFL have made a small change in their fleet of buses and introducing the new service taxicard is a development that will help many more people that are restricted to a wheelchair in their daily lives. TFL still have improvements to make on other services such as the tube, train, DLR and trams. Finding out times of the different public transport services helps them even more so that they don’t have to make wasted journeys out to stations or bus stops. In time it is said that all aspect of London Transport will be able to accommodate those who are wheelchairs, although it may take many years to do so.