Concerns raised for disabled passengers as London bendy buses bid farewell


London’s few remaining bendy buses are completing their final journeys between White City and Hayes Bypass tonight.


By Nicolas Atkin

Disabled bus passengers may face increasing transport difficulties as London’s few remaining bendy buses complete their final journeys between White City and Hayes Bypass tonight.

The 207 service is the last of the 12 routes to go, as Boris Johnson fulfils an election manifesto pledge to scrap the vehicles from the streets.

They will be replaced by 500 Routemaster-style buses, but South London charity Leonard Cheshire Disability are worried about limited wheelchair access.

Policy and Campaigns manager Guy Parckar said: “The amount of space for wheelchair users on bendy buses was a particularly positive feature, so there will be concerns about a lack of space on double-deckers.”

The Routemaster-style replacements are comprised of an upper and lower deck instead of two connected carriages.

They are also higher from the ground, decreasing ease of access for passengers to move wheelchairs onto the vehicle.

“Inaccessibility is still a massive issue on the Underground and so buses are vital for many disabled Londoners,” he added.

Mr Parckar said Leonard Cheshire Disability hear complaints of access ramps and audiovisual features not working, and drivers refusing to operate them.

He said: “Making sure that ramps and other features are always properly operational, and that drivers are fully trained around disabled passengers’ requirements, will now be even more critical.”

The vehicles were used on 12 routes over the last ten years, having been introduced under Ken Livingstone.

The Mayor tweeted earlier today: “Just over 24 hours until we wave a non fond farewell to the last bendy buses in London.”

However, others don’t share his view and have also raised concerns over access for disabled passengers.

One Twitter user wrote: “What an absolute waste of money replacing all the bendy buses which were much better for wheelchair users.”

Another tweeted: “Boris’s transport priority should have been improving public transport for disabled passengers, not getting rid of bendy buses.”

A third commented: “Bad news for wheelchair users…”

Bendy buses have caused controversy from the outset, causing traffic congestion and enabling fare-dodging with their hop-on, hop-off style.

They were also taken off the roads for a week in March 2004 after three caught fire while in service.

Leonard Cheshire Disability supports thousands of disabled people in the UK and more than 50 other countries.

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