The Bromley Labour Group councillors strongly oppose the closure of 64% of the ticket offices within the London Borough of Bromley. The closure of 14 out of 22 station ticket offices will disproportionately affect the Borough’s disabled and elderly rail passengers.
The Bromley Labour Group therefore strongly urges Southeastern to scrap these plans and work with rail users and accessibility groups to improve rail travel for all of its users.
Southeastern’s Equality Impact Assessment states that almost 90% of tickets are purchased away from a ticket office. This shows that 10% of rail passengers still rely on ticket offices. Closing them risks excluding this group of rail users.
Disabled rail users are far more likely to use ticket offices. According to Transport for All, there are several reasons why disabled people need to use ticket offices:
- 23% of disabled people are not internet users
- Machines can be out of reach for wheelchair users
- Many blind passengers can’t use touch screens
- Passengers with dexterity issues can’t use buttons
- Lots of disabled passengers need advice and support
The mitigations that have been proposed to address this are piecemeal and inconsistent. At one station, passengers may have to use a video-call function on a Ticket Vending Machine, at another they may have to call a mobile staff team, at another they may have to travel to a hub. This fractured approach will make navigating the railway prohibitively confusing for disabled passengers, and fails to provide an adequate alternative to current ticket office arrangements.
Multifunctional staff who roam around the station are not an accessible alternative for many passengers. Disabled people with mobility or energy impairments cannot travel through the station to try to find assistance, and blind and visually impaired passengers will struggle to identify a member of staff. Ticket offices are also the only designated point in the station with a hearing induction loop. Many deaf people will be unable to access the assistance they need without this.
Mobile response teams are also not a viable mitigation, especially if Help Points are the only way to get hold of them. The time it takes for these teams to be requested and make their way over will add to the already excessive journey times disabled people face, and adds to the stress of rail travel for disabled users.
Multifunctional roles would also require staff to work on both sides of the ticket gate line. This is a clear barrier to seeking support if a ticket is required before travelling past the gate line in order to go through the station to find assistance.
The Bromley Labour Group does not see evidence that these issues have been properly acknowledged in Southeastern’s Equality Impact Assessment. The document is flawed and looks to put an overly positive spin on the ticket office closures, instead of properly assessing the impact these closures will have on our elderly and disabled rail users.
We understand that ticket office usage is on the decline as more pay-as-you-go and online ticket purchases take place. However, it is clear that Southeastern has failed to grasp the full impact that these closures will have on rail users such as disabled and elderly residents who continue to use ticket offices.
Bromley Labour Group
Cllr Jeremy Adams
Cllr Jessica Arnold
Cllr Kathy Bance
Cllr Alisa Igoe
Cllr Simon Jeal
Cllr Kevin Kennedy-Brooks
Cllr Josh King
Cllr Ruth McGregor
Cllr Tony McPartlan
Cllr Chris Price
Cllr Ryan Thomson
Cllr Rebecca Wiffen