The Good, The Bad and The Wet.

29/4/2015

Richmond – Waterloo – Ludgate Circus – Return

I seem to be going to more and more events on the topics of accessible public transport. It’s ironic that I’m using public transport to get to these meetings and something always seems to go wrong at some level. Today I attended a meeting with Transport Focus (used to be Passenger Focus). This is the group you contact if your rail complaint isn’t dealt with adequately by your train company. Surprisingly I’ve never actually had to involve them… yet.

Today’s trip went entirely to type.

The journey out was almost straightforward. The only fly in the ointment was some idiot white van driver who parked at the bus stop which meant the bus couldn’t easily get close enough to the kerb. The driver eventually managed it, but this made a late running bus even later. Lousy traffic through London compounded the situation more so that a 20 minute journey took closer to 40 minutes and made me late for the meeting. I can’t really tie this into an accessibility issue, except that other passengers were able to jump off the bus in traffic and walk the rest of their journey in a way that I, as a wheelchair user, couldn’t.

Of course just to put the icing on the cake it started to rain as I stepped off the bus so that I spent the rest of the day damp. At least I didn’t smell like a wet dog!

The day got interesting (aside from the meeting, which was fascinating and productive) on the return journey. It really became a story of polar opposites.

Having not eaten by 2pm I decided to grab some Sushi at Waterloo. As I was stuffing my face I was approached by a lovely woman by the name of Maria. Wearing a passenger assist vest, she was keen to help me find and board a suitable train. Obviously I was more focused on food at this point so she pointed me at the information point when I was ready.

Usually I just go to the platform, as you will know if you’re not a first time reader, but I thought it would be interesting this time to follow the process. Maria wasn’t there when I arrived, but Jane was terrific. She was of course helpful, found a good train, took me to it and got me on board, but she was also bright and full of pleasant conversation for the whole time we were together. I have no idea how she keeps it up all day.

Sadly this very positive experience was rather rained all over by the final leg of my day, a bus journey. It was the increasingly old and stale story of a ramp that wouldn’t deploy, despite the repeated efforts of the driver. He did his best, and kept me informed so I can’t criticise him in any way. When the hardware fails sometimes there’s nothing to be done. We eventually gave up and he left while I caught the next bus, successfully. Rather amusingly my bus overtook the first one, and I arrived at my stop ahead. Maybe there is justice.

I have of course written a letter of complaint to TfL, but given that 24 days since writing my last one I still haven’t heard squat, I’m not holding my breath for a swift or positive outcome.

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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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