This is the letter I sent to TfL today. I hope it will give you a flavour of what we are doing. Feel free to follow suit!
Following our previous correspondence, I would like to inform you of my recent experiences on your buses. I would first like to say that the treatment I have received from drivers has improved, and several have helped me by asking buggy owners to vacate the wheelchair space. This is really appreciated. Your drivers also seem to be more aware of the distance of the bus from the curve and how this affects the angle of the ramp. Often they reposition the bus, making it easier to board. Again, this is a fantastic improvement. I was also very encouraged by your last letter detailing TfL’s plans to improve the experience of wheelchair users on London’s buses. I was particularly pleased by the proposal to introduce flip-up seats, as I can see that this will make travel much easier.
Nevertheless, I would like to raise a few queries. On many recent journeys, several ramps in a row have failed in the same way. When the driver puts down the ramp, it retracts as soon as it makes contact with the pavement. I understand that machine failure is no one’s fault, but this has happened on eight separate buses. On one occasion, the whole bus lost power – suggesting there is a serious electrical fault on many of your buses. WOW would appreciate an investigation into this, as the fault is obviously making travel trickier for wheelchair users.
I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the signs asking buggy owners to vacate the wheelchair space are placed at about knee-height, and are therefore not noticeable. This just doesn’t make sense and means that buggy owners are unaware of the fact that they are preventing a wheelchair user from boarding. This again just makes travel more of a hassle than it should be. I do not think it would cost a lot to relocate these signs and doing so could actually save both time and effort for your drivers.
Finally, I would like to query your fare policy. Wheelchair users, as you know, tend to rely heavily on the bus service and so our free travel is a great help. However, I and many other wheelchair users are obliged to travel with an assistant. As in most jobs, I cover my assistant’s expenses which she incurs at work and therefore pay her bus fare. This obviously negates my free travel. I understand that TfL is subject to strict budgeting, but WOW would really like to see some progress on this – perhaps in the form of discounted fares for carers – so that those who require help are not discriminated against. Please let us know your views on this.
Thank you for reading this letter. I look forward to your response.