Guide dog in front of a bus

Increase prosecutions of minicab drivers who refuse assistance dogs

18 March 2016

Over a million Londoners have a hearing loss and approximately 175,000 Londoners live with sight loss.  Every day, 1.3 million journeys are made by disabled people - in London alone.

Specific concerns raised by Londoners with a sensory impairment include;

  • Barriers to travelling independently with confidence, such as difficulties moving around stations or using private hire services with assistance dogs.
  • Difficulties obtaining accessible passenger information, particularly real-time service data.
  • Obstacles navigating the street environment and risks posed by ‘shared space’ areas like Exhibition Road.

The London Assembly Transport Committee has conducted an investigation into how these problems could be dealt with and what work needs to be done to make London a truly accessible city

The Committee report ‘Leading the Way: Travelling with a sensory impairment in London’ is released today.  Its findings include;

  • Increasing enforcement against private hire operators and drivers who refuse to accept passengers with assistance dogs, and facilitating complaints from passengers who have experienced this problem.
  • Improving the provision of real-time travel information across the network, in formats accessible for people with a sensory impairment.
  • Ensuring greater consistency in bus design, including the availability of hearing loops and providing clearer, accessible signage.
  • Using technology to making it easier for visually impaired bus passengers to identify the bus they need to board.
  • Working with boroughs to remove excess street clutter from London’s pavements, while applying consistent guidance to ensure ‘shared space’ environments are safe for pedestrians with a sensory impairment, including assistance dog users.

Valerie Shawcross CBE AM, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee said;

“One of the most concerning issues is where private hire drivers or minicabs have illegally refused to accept passengers with an assistance dog. Even if it only happens in a minority of cases, this reduces the confidence of people with a sensory impairment that they can travel around London independently. The number of prosecutions pursued by TfL seems implausibly low, given the evidence the Committee has heard about the prevalence of this problem.

People with a sensory impairment can’t be the last people sitting on the bus or the train.  London must have a truly accessible transport network that reflects the needs of the sensory impaired at every stage.”

Notes to editors

  1. Read ‘Leading the Way: Travelling with a sensory impairment in London’ below.
  2. Valerie Shawcross CBE AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, is available for interview – see contact details below.
  3. London Assembly Transport Committee.
  4. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Alison Bell on 020 7983 4228.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.