The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has announced that step-free access on the London Underground will get a financial boost of £200m over the next five years.
The project aims to increase the number of step-free access stations to over 100, which is 40% of the network. The current level is at 26%.
As part of Transport for London’s (TfL) draft business plan, it has committed to making over 30 additional stations step-free by 2021-2022. Work will also progress on Bank and Elephant & Castle stations.
"As part of making London's transport system one of the very best in the world we must ensure it is accessible for all Londoners," Khan said. "It's simply not right that for people with disabilities, parents with young children and many older people, many of our stations are still very difficult to use."
Ruth Owen, chief executive of non-profit Whizz-Kidz, which supports disabled young people through mobility equipment, welcomed the news and the mayor's "clear commitment" to making the city more inclusive.
"Public transport is a lifeline for disabled people, but we know that accessibility can be a major barrier for wheelchair users who, like anyone else, just want to get from A to B," she said.
Faryal Velmi, director of Transport for All, said: "We look forward to 30 more stations being made step free over the next five years as this will unlock parts of the Underground that have been unusable for us since the Tube was created. A more accessible Tube will mean more travel options and greater opportunity for us to enjoy our great capital city."
TfL is also bringing forward work on London’s outer stations, such as Harrow on the Hill and Newbury Park, where work will begin in the new year.
Labour AM for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah AM, welcomes the plans, after former mayor Boris Johnson halted procedures. This had sparked frustration from campaigners, such as Harrow Association of Disabled people, Harrow Mencap and Age UK-Harrow, who have been rallying to improve accessibility at Harrow-on-the-Hill for the last 10 years or more.
Mr Shah said: "This win is going to make life easier for many residents, including parents with prams and those with disabilities. I would also like to thank everyone that was involved in this campaign, including councillors and the local MP. Step-free access will play a major part in Harrow’s plans for regeneration."
But Greater London Authority Conservative transport spokesperson Keith Prince said question marks remained over how such significant investment will be funded.
"The mayor has made a very large commitment of £200m at a time when TfL is looking to save over £3.5bn over the next five years," he said. "Following spends of £640m on his fares freeze and another £120m on his Hopper Fare, the mayor is yet to explain where he expects to find any of this additional revenue."
"We all want to welcome good news announcements like this but until the mayor explains how he expects to pay for them there will be a cloud hanging overhead and doubts over whether they can be delivered," Prince added.
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