The Hardware & the Wetware fail


Richmond – Kingston – Return

I often write letters of complaint to accompany these blog entries. I thought for a change that I wouldn’t write the entry and letter separately, but would simply post the letter. Enjoy.

Dear Tfl,

I set off to head into Kingston this morning. The first leg of my journey involved picking up the bus into Richmond from the XXXX Stop. The first bus was an R68, number 8544 reg YX10FFE. The bus stopped and the driver attempted to deploy the ramp. Although it deployed, it didn’t stick and quickly retracted. He tried, and failed, again before pulling the bus up a few feet and trying again. Again the ramp failed to deploy. To cut a long story short the driver tried half a dozen more times, also moving the bus again, and restarting it, but to no avail. As well as being disappointing for me this also significantly delayed his passengers.

I really can’t fault the driver for his efforts, but he was hobbled by the equipment. I need you to confirm for me that this ramp was working when it was tested in the depot, as per page 16 of The Big Red Book (2012), and if not why it was allowed to go into service.

I was able to board the second bus, a 190, although the driver was initially much more concerned why I hadn’t boarded the first bus than he was concerned with deploying the ramp to let me on.

I picked up my second bus, a 65 reg YT59SGU, at Richmond station at around 11.05am. As the bus pulled up the driver shook his head at me and indicated that he would not let me board. As the bus stopped I could see that there were already two buggies in the wheelchair space. As you are aware, the driver should have asked the buggies to move using the pre-recorded announcement (BRB 2012, page 57, item 4). Please investigate why he didn’t do this, and what action is being taken to prevent a recurrence in the future. As it happened, when the rear doors opened for passengers to disembark one parent volunteered to get off and the other parent folded the buggy leaving the wheelchair space free for me. The driver at this point deployed the ramp.

At the next stop the driver refused a fathers request to board with a buggy, even though there was space for both me and the buggy. This was proved right when, unseen by the driver, the mother slipped on through the middle doors and parked the buggy in the bay with me.

I appreciate that carrying a buggy and a wheelchair is at drivers discretion space allowing, but not even exploring the possibility creates bad feelings between wheelchair and buggy users in a circumstance where cooperation and understanding should be fostered at every opportunity. I strongly suggest that this should be explained to this driver.

I should point out that my return journey this afternoon, also on a 65 from Kingston to Richmond, again had me sharing the wheelchair space with a buggy, but this time done with support and cooperation of the driver, rather than despite him. I regret I didn’t note the bus id.

I’m sure you are aware how important bus travel is for wheelchair users, but incident filled journeys such as this are enough to put users less robust than me from travelling. There are good processes and procedures in place within TfL which weren’t followed in these incidents. Please confirm that action is being taken to prevent a recurrence.

Best regards


JpegPS. The bus information screens in Richmond also failed today.

About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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