Accessibility Awareness forums at our London garages
Over the past few months we have been working with TfL, conducting Accessibility Awareness forums at our garages.
The idea behind these is to re-emphasise the training issued to our drivers of the importance of offering the correct service to passengers with disabilities when they wish to travel on our buses, and also give people with disabilities the opportunity to have a dialogue directly with our staff.
At each of the forums, drivers have the opportunity to discuss the TfL revised wheelchair priority area guidelines, which outline the amended procedure and shows how the designated space for wheelchairs can be shared.
Representatives from TfL and our communication support staff are also available, together with visitors with disabilities, to discuss with the drivers the issues that arise when wheelchair and buggy users and people with other disabilities are travelling.
We have held these forums at several of our garages, both in North and South London, with plans to visit our other garages throughout this year.
Each forum is held on one of our buses, with all doors open and the ramp deployed to welcome any staff and visitors. Drivers are asked to take part and many of them volunteer to use some of their break time to get involved.
We have been fortunate to have wheelchair users visit the forums and get very much involved with the discussions, and also representative groups from other disability awareness organisations that are not wheelchair users.
Much of the discussion has been around the use of the wheelchair ramp and the sharing of the designated wheelchair priority area. Those with disabilities not requiring wheelchairs were also able to explain their needs, and the importance of drivers understanding and appreciating that not everyone with a disability shows it in a physical way.
Following on from one of our driver’s explaining that he had driven ten metres past a particular bus stop to put the ramp out, as the kerb at the stop was too low, but that first he had announced over the bus PA system what he was doing, George from TfL said:
"Communication is key, and that’s the crux of the situation, if you explain to people, well I can’t do this, but I can offer you that, people go thanks driver, you’ve been really helpful. Because they know where they stand."
One of our visiting wheelchair users also commented about the importance of communication, she said:
"If you tell me, I’ve put announcements out, I’ve asked them (passengers) to move, they’re refusing to move, but you’ve told the bus behind to pick me up, then I’m fine with that, it’s knowing what’s going on that’s important"
Another of our drivers Maureen explained:
"I’m really glad I stopped to have this chat, it’s always good to talk with our customers and understand their needs."
The accompanying video (see below) has a snapshot of more of the comments that have been made during these forums, if you have any comments or suggestions to help us to improve our service offering to our disabled passengers, please contact us.
Published : Fri 15th Dec. 2017 - Tue 9th Jan. 2018
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This is a key role within the organisation and the work is wide ranging, interesting and vital to the smooth running of the garage and its performance.