Consumer research for older and disabled people

Text Size:

Current Size: 100%

Accessible public transport in London

Journey planning

If you're planning a journey in London, start with one of these two organisations: Transport for London and Transport for All

Transport for London

Transport for London (TfL) is the public body responsible for transport services in London.

Transport for London
Transport for London

United Kingdom

Tel: 

0343 222 1234

Mobile: 

020 7027 8511 (Oyster information)

Textphone: 

0800 112 3456 (travel information)

Email: 

TfL's online journey planner provides access details - select the 'Accessibility & travel options' link. The journey planner is accessible for people using screen readers such as Jaws. The TfL website also has useful live travel updates.

For people with learning difficulties or with hidden impairments, the Travel Support Card can make it easier to get help from transport staff. The card has a blank space inside to write down information about your journey and any help you may need. Show the card to staff if you need help.

Platform doors in the London UndergroundLondon Underground

TfL's Transport accessibility page has useful information including:

  • large-print maps
  • maps showing step-free access and gaps between trains and platforms
  • a toilet map
  • an audio tube map

Many guides are also available in print.

Oyster card

An Oyster card is a plastic credit card-sized smartcard that you use instead of tickets on buses, the Underground, trams, rail, DLR and some river services. To get one, you pay a refundable deposit of £5, then pay to add credit. You tap the card in and out on the automatic ticket gates, and the system works to make sure you are not overcharged. For visitors to London, an Oyster card can save you time and money - see the Oyster card website.

You can use your Disabled Persons Railcard with a pre-paid Oyster card but the registration process is not accessible for blind people: the form has to be completed at the booking office.

Transport for All

Transport for All is a voluntary organisation that provides specialist advice to disabled and older people using transport in London.

Transport for All can provide specialist advice over the phone, and they have a free booklet called 'Get Moving', which has details of travelling in London with access information:

  • buses
  • London Underground
  • Docklands Light Railway (DLR)
  • Overground trains
  • London river services
  • taxis

Assistance

On London Underground and, since spring 2014, on London Overground, TfL staff can assist you to platforms and on to trains. This is a 'turn up and go' assistance service for mobility- and sight-impaired passengers - staff will provide assistance without the need to book in advance. If you need someone to help you get off at the other end, staff can call ahead to arrange this.

All trains have priority seating next to the doors, and voice announcements, with drivers announcing any disruptions. Tactile warning surfaces are being installed as platforms are refurbished.

TfL travel mentoring scheme

This gives free advice on journey planning. It can provide a mentor to accompany you on your first few journeys. For more information or to sign up, contact:

Concessions

For London residents

Residents of the London Boroughs may be eligible for a Freedom Pass or 60+ Oyster Card. Both of these entitle the holder to 24-hour free travel across the TfL network. This includes London Overground, but other rail services may not provide free travel until after 9.30am. To check which services accept Freedom Passes contact TfL or Transport for All.

The Disabled Persons Freedom Pass is available to London residents with an eligible disability. The Older Persons Freedom Pass is available to London Residents who meet the age requirement. To find out more, contact your local council or visit the Freedom Pass website.

The 60+ Oyster Card is also available for London residents aged over 60.

Wheelchair and compact mobility scooter users can travel on London buses free, without needing to show a Freedom Pass.

For visitors to London

People coming from outside London can use their Freedom Pass only on buses, not on the Underground.

Railcards

Railcards give you discounts on some off-peak London services.

Wheelchair user waiting for a lift

Access

Information and signs are clearly designed to help you find stops or platforms. All lines have audible announcements.

Tube Exits is a smartphone app that tells you which carriage to board in order to be nearest station exits, and which side the doors open on.

Announcements and communication

For deaf and hard of hearing people, all ticket offices have induction loops.

London buses

All London buses (except heritage buses on route 15) have ramps, are low-floor and can be lowered to pavement level when the bus stops. Every bus has a space for one wheelchair no bigger than 700mm in width and 1200mm in length. Many buses have audio announcements with next-stop information.

Contact TfL's travel mentoring team (see above) for information on using mobility scooters on London buses. For more about this topic, see Mobility scooters on buses, particularly the mobility aid recognition scheme developed by Transport for London.

London taxis

All licensed London taxis (black cabs) now have to be wheelchair accessible. For Londoners, there is the London Taxicard Scheme.

Reporting back and complaining

In the first instance, contact Transport for London (TfL). If you are not satisfied, contact London TravelWatch:

Travel tips and advice

  • Using an Oyster card instead of tickets will simplify your journey and save you money.

For wheelchair users:

  • The Underground map has two colours for the wheelchair symbol. One shows access to platforms only (ie for  carers); the other coloured symbol shows access to platforms and trains.
  • Personal assistants do not travel for free on the Underground.
  • There is help available from staff with manual ramps on Overground and Underground trains.

Last updated: February 2016


Previous: Ferries | Transport in London | Safety for wheelchair users