This is the letter I wrote back to TfL, who in response to my first letter informed me that everything WOW is campaigning for is in fact already meant to happen. I will keep you updated on any developments.
Thank you for your letter of the 31st January regarding my experience as a wheelchair user on London’s buses. I am pleased that you have in place the procedures which you describe, however I must unfortunately inform you that these are very rarely implemented.
You write that bus drivers are expected to use the PA system to ask passengers occupying the wheelchair space on the bus to make room. This is exactly what WOW thinks is the most appropriate course of action. However, while I appreciate that drivers can not force passengers to move, I think you should be aware that I have never heard this announcement. In my experience, when the wheelchair space is occupied, the driver uses this as an excuse to leave me at the bus stop. This, I am afraid, simply shows that your training scheme is not working. You also write that wheelchair users should be allowed to board first to avoid inconvenience for them and other passengers. However, drivers normally only lower the ramp when everyone else has boarded the bus. Again, your excellent procedures are not being implemented.
To rectify this, WOW would be very pleased to offer our advice on changes that could be made to your training scheme. I feel that these changes could be minor yet very effective, especially if drivers were made more aware of how their actions affect wheelchair users. As I am sure you are aware, many wheelchair users are unable to drive and the Tube services in London are mostly inaccessible. This means that for many buses are the only way to travel. I would like this to be made clear to drivers and would personally be willing to come and speak of my experiences.
If you feel this is not an option, WOW would be happy to liaise with you to develop a suitable alternative. However, it is clear that something must be done to allow wheelchair users to travel around London in a hassle-free and fair manner. I am sure you agree.
Thank you again for your letter, and I look forward to working with you in the future.