A report on improving accessibility on London’s Transport services has called for the fully accessible Thameslink line to be on the Tube map as a matter of some urgency.
Although part of the Thameslink line through central London used to appear on the tube map, since mid-1999 the tube map only shows services that TfL operates — which while generally called a tube map, also includes the Overground, Tram, Dangleway, although they recently added river services.
The report on accessibility in London was carried out by the London Assembly’s Transport Committee and took evidence from a range of people who struggle to use public transport.
Of the number of recommendations, the Assembly set a deadline of August 2020 for TfL to add Thameslink to the tube map.
Much of the argument against including Thameslink in the past was due to the less-than-tube frequency of the trains, but now it matches, and even at times, exceeds tube frequency with 24 trains per hour at peak times, and making it more obvious that, for example, there’s an alternative to the Northern line between London Bridge and King’s Cross could help reduce overcrowding on the tube.
That aside, the Assembly’s main argument is that the Thameslink upgrade project also made Thameslink fully step-free throughout central London, so adding it to the map makes accessible travel options more obvious to casual travellers.
TfL is also being asked to improve it’s existing real-time information to include step-free availability at stations, such as if lifts are out of order, or there’s a staff shortage affecting the availability of loading ramps onto trains.
It’s not entirely bad news, TfL report that 95 percent of bus stops are now accessible to wheelchair users, and the DLR and Trams are both fully step-free accessible. There are now around 200 step-free stations across London’s transport network, although most are Overground and TfL Rail stations — less than a third of tube stations are step-free.
Plans to upgrade 11 stations on the tube have however been pushed back to later this year, and that was before the likely impact of the Coronavirus on engineering works.
The various providers of public transport are also being asked to work closer together to coordinate upgrades to the network to ensure accessibility is offered throughout stations.
That’s not just physical accessibility, but often less obvious issues such as legibility of signs, calm spaces, and tactile surfaces. And of course toilets – which the report says are still chargeable at 26 tube stations. The Assembly wants these to be free of charge.
However, as necessary as all those things are, it’ll be the arrival of the Thameslink on the tube map that’ll get the headlines.
The full report is here.