Friday, 6 November 2009

Boris Johnson leaves Dial-a-Ride callers hanging

Hundreds of disabled Londoners have had their their requests for the Dial-a-Ride service refused every day, as TfL struggles to cope with the demand.

The service was relaunched last week, after a series of headlines about the many Londoners being left stranded by the service.

In the lead up to the relaunch, users were sent an email stating that:

From Monday 26th October, when customers call us they will notice some new features including:
  • Automatic estimates of how long it will take before an operator can take their call
  • Easier to understand options to choose from
  • Music whilst on you are on hold

They were told that the old contact numbers for the service would no longer work, and were given a new set of numbers instead.

They were then urged to phone 020 7466 0251 if they were still experiencing problems with the service.

Unfortunately almost two weeks after this service was launched, the number which is still listed on the TfL website remains completely offline:

Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee and Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon said today:

"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."

"It is already bad enough that Dial-a-Ride users face extensive delays in booking trips but now every day 400 trips are refused to Dial-a-Ride users across London - a figure far higher than two or three years ago."

Dial-a-Ride is still largely popular and was made free for all users at the start of 2008. However, last year Boris johnson also placed a cap on the funding for the service.

This cap, along with the rising demand for the service, means that in some parts of London almost 20% calls were refused this summer.

But with those people now not even able to make their views about the service known, the real level of dissatisfaction could be even higher still.


DOA said...

Why are we paying for them to get a free ride anyway? If they want a better service then they should pay for a taxi like the rest of us.

AdamB said...

I see the season of goodwill is upon us.

Chris said...

Personally I think we should let them eat cake.

Claire said...

DOA - Your question isn't as rhetorical as you think. The answer is obvious to anyone with half a brain - because disabled people can't use the bus and the tube anywhere near as easily as able bodied people, esopecially if they're travelling alone.

Karl said...

Disabled people are getting a pretty raw deal at the moment. Ealing Broadway, hub of the borough/Crossrail, still has no disabled access and plans to incoroprate it have been shelved. It's a similar story with other stations at the moment. See also Shepherds Bush station.

AdamB said...

Boris has scrapped most of the step free access plans. They slipped the news out on the same day the fare rises were announced. The main argument used by those against step free access is that it would be cheaper to pay for schemes like dial a ride instead. It's a fair enough argument in many respects, except that step-free access doesn't just help the disabled but also mothers with prams, the elderly etc.

saifu03 said...

step free access helps nobody. Gilligan said so. Anyway, in order to make it sound exclusive, Boris supporters are encouraged to use the phrase "wheelchair lifts" in order to disparage it (in their minds, people in wheelchairs are fair game) and then use dubious statistics about the numbers of people in wheelchairs in a given borough. Those are the rules - stick to them.

Claire said...

Another reason dial a ride can't replace step free access is the social aspect. Anyone in a wheel chair who wants to go out with their friends, family or partner will want to travel with them. It's especially important to young people.