1. ITV Report

Paralympics countdown: Is the tube ready for wheelchair users?

Tamisha Archibald takes a journey on London's transport system Photo: ITV News

Britain is the home of the Paralympics, so you'd hope London's transport system would be a trailblazer when it comes to accessibility too.

Transport for London actually say fewer passengers with disabilities will come to the Paralympics than the Olympics, but still, there's a symbolic importance about getting these next Games right.

Today, I thought I'd test out the tube with my colleague Tamisha Archibald, who uses a wheelchair. We set off from Waterloo, where thousands of spectators will arrive later this month, and decided to go to Stratford, where the Olympic/Paralympic Park is based.

We have to be fair, the journey wasn't too bad, but there were two main issues:

  • 1) The amount of waiting around. The tube is renowned for being quick and flexible - not if you use a wheelchair. Aside from time taken to film our journey, it took a good while to find lifts, press buttons, and wait for help to arrive. The staff were very friendly (they knew we were coming) but the lifts were slow and sometimes a bit hidden.
Lifts were slow and sometimes a bit hidden Credit: ITV News
  • 2) There was a heart-stopping moment when Tamisha's chair got stuck between the platform and the tube. The front wheels had fallen into the gap, and the doors were about to close. A small push from me and we were out of the danger zone, but Tamisha wasn't confident she'd cope on her own. A bystander advised her to 'use more welly', i.e. take a run-up. A raised eyebrow from Tamisha provided sufficient response to that...
Tamisha's wheelchair gets stuck between the platform and the tube Credit: ITV News

But we were impressed by TFL's effort in the run-up to the Games. It'd cost an unrealistic amount to make the tube perfect, but what they have done is advise and assist people about the current arrangements.

Tamisha hopes that will be enough to let people plan ahead and have time to laugh about the odd delay, just like she did.