Access for All Programme

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th October 2018.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 12:00 am, 11th October 2018

What progress has been made on implementing the Access for All programme.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

Access for All has delivered step-free, accessible routes at more than 200 stations since it was launched in 2006, and smaller access improvements at over 1,500 stations. To build on that success, we have extended the fund and made a further £300 million available via the inclusive transport strategy.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. For disabled people, particularly wheelchair users, having decent access to public transport is the difference between able to work and get out and being confined to their home. Does she agree that the Mayor of London should match this exciting scheme, so that we can get Transport for London to implement proper access to Stanmore, Canons Park, Queensbury and Harrow & Wealdstone stations in my constituency?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

My hon. Friend is right: if the Mayor of London spent as much time fixing the tube station as he did promoting himself at the station, it would be far more accessible. As my hon. Friend aware, transport in London is devolved to the Mayor and delivered by Transport for London, so it is for the Mayor to determine his accessibility policy and the provision of step-free access at individual stations.

Photo of Mohammad Yasin Mohammad Yasin Labour, Bedford

There is no step-free access at Bedford station while much needed repairs are made to the lifts, but passengers were not informed until days before of the severe disruption to their journeys. Govia Thameslink Railway is already facing potential fines for not keeping passengers informed. Does the Minister agree that no lessons have been learned from the chaos over the summer?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

Bedford station is, I believe, fitted for step-free access. It is unfortunate that the lifts are broken and that they have not been repaired quickly. Hopefully, the hon. Gentleman raising the matter today will alert GTR and Network Rail to the need to get their act into gear. I know that taxis are available for passengers who need the service, but the lifts should be fixed.

Photo of Gill Furniss Gill Furniss Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Steel, Postal Affairs and Consumer Protection)

Government cuts have forced local authority bus budgets in England and Wales to be cut by more than £20 million last year. Services such as the No. 3 bus in Wincobank in my constituency have been reduced, affecting the elderly and those with mobility issues. What are the Government doing to ensure the provision of sustainable and accessible public transport in areas such as my constituency, particularly in view of the Prime Minister’s announcement that austerity is now over?

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

Budgets to support our buses are helping bus services up and down the country, and patronages are changing depending on where people are in the country. The hon. Lady is right to say that disabled people tend to take buses more than other forms of transport, but if local authorities work closely with bus operating companies they can increase access and patronage. In areas such as Liverpool, Bristol and South Gloucestershire, patronages have gone up. Bus companies can do a lot to ensure more accessibility, from using technology to ensuring that the buses themselves are more accessible.