Older people from Islington in bus travel protest

Islington residents are among 200 activists taking part in a protest highlighting the barriers older and disabled people face on buses.

Protesters will be gathering at Vauxhall, Liverpool Street, Camden Town and Marylebone from 10.30am on Tuesday (September 6) before meeting in Westminster with officials from Transport for London (TfL), Travelwatch and bus companies.

The event has been organised by Age UK London, Greater London Forum for Older People (GLF) and Transport for All.

Organisers say they want to make it easier for pensioners and those with mobility problems to use buses.

Pauline Anwyl-Jones, 68, of Fortnam Road, Upper Holloway, who is joining other campaigners on Tuesday, said: “Some of the new London buses aren’t elderly or disabled-friendly. The ones with the seats at the front have a very steep step, which I find impossible to mount.

“I tend to find that most drivers are very nice and helpful, but others, despite being trained, are terrible and don’t show any regard to passengers, irrespective of what their needs are.”

Age UK said among other issues commuters claim drivers regularly head off before passengers are safely seated which leads to falls and broken bones.

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Lianna Etkind, campaigns and outreach co-ordinator at Transport for All, said: “The behaviour of a minority of bus drivers is still stopping them from travelling. No one should remain housebound because they’re scared that their next bus trip will result in a broken hip.”

Gordon Deuchars, policy and campaigns manager at Age UK London, said: “Accessible, good quality public transport is of vital importance in the lives of many older and disabled people. Not only does it help them to get out and about, it also allows them to make large contributions to London’s society and economy. We hope that our Day of Action will draw attention to the barriers they face when using London bus services and help bring about positive changes in bus provision.”

A spokeswoman for TfL said: “We welcome the opportunity to discuss accessibility issues with all sectors of the community but as always we would advise any of our passengers who may experience any problems on our buses to contact customer services so that any issues can be investigated.

“Ensuring our service is accessible to all Londoners is a priority for TfL as we carry almost 2.3 billion passengers each year. All our buses are now low floor wheelchair accessible. Our bus drivers are highly trained and familiar with customer service.

““Our research shows that older people, who make up 13 percent of bus passengers, are highly satisfied with public transport in London.”