'Companion Pass' Mayor's first campaign pledge for election
The Mayor of London has promised a free travel pass to help disabled people get around.
Carers and companions of disabled people would get free travel on all Transport for London (TfL) services, including the Tube, Overground and buses, under the new plans.
The pledge is Sadiq Khan’s first policy announcement ahead of the London mayoral election in May this year.
It came as rail fares rose by an average of 2.7 per cent nationally, meaning some commuters faced increases of more than £100 on annual travel cards.
Mr Khan has frozen all pay-as-you-go fares on TfL services for the fourth year running in 2020.
The Mayor said his ‘companion pass’ would make “a big difference” to people’s lives. Disabled people can already travel for free on the London network.
But under the new plans, anyone with a Disabled or Older Person’s Freedom Pass could also apply for a ‘companion pass’ if they need help travelling.
Eight four per cent of disabled Londoners say their travel is limited, according to TfL research.
This means disabled people take fewer public transport trips in the capital than others. The network also found disabled people are more likely to be low income – meaning they are worse impacted by high travel costs.
Alan Benson, chair of London disability campaign group Travel for All, said he was “delighted” with the Mayor’s plans.
He said: “The rights of disabled people are rarely put front and centre by policy makers, so this is a welcome change.
“The provision of a companion pass is an access requirement in the same way as a lift is.
“Without it many disabled people simply cannot travel, as they can’t travel alone.”
All London buses are now wheelchair accessible, along with 95 per cent of bus stops in the city.
But only 194 of TfL’s 459 stations are accessible for disabled people – fewer than half.
Cockfosters, Mill Hill East and Wimbledon Park will be upgraded by spring this year, with accessibility improvements underway at other stations across the city.
The Mayor said his free travel promise showed he would “stand up for all Londoners”.
He said: “The ‘companion pass’ is intended to make a big difference to disabled Londoners.
“It will help them to move around our city more easily and take advantage of all the fantastic opportunities London has to offer.”
Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter
January 3, 2020