Transport bosses say they believe design changes made to the successor to London’s Routemaster bus will make it more accessible for wheelchair-users.
A prototype of the new “bus for London” – championed by the mayor, Boris Johnson – was seen in the capital for the first time last weekend, and was viewed by about 10,000 Londoners.
Seven more of the buses will enter service for the first time in February to be trialled on the busy 38 route between Victoria station and Hackney in east London.
But in February, campaigners for accessible transport criticised aspects of the design of the new bus, which they said failed to include enough space for wheelchair-users.
Transport for London (TfL) admitted failing to consult with disabled people’s organisations on the bus’s design.
The accessible transport charity Transport for All (TfA) said in February that the new bus’s wheelchair space was too small, and was “considerably smaller” than spaces on London’s existing buses.
But following consultations with disability groups, TfL has now overseen changes to the bus, with some seats and hand poles repositioned to “provide more space for manoeuvring into and out of the wheelchair space”.
Mike Weston, operations director for London Buses, said: “A number of wheelchair-users tested the space at the weekend when the bus was open to the public… and found it very easy to use.
“The wheelchair space on the new bus is larger than is required by legislation and indeed larger than many of those on buses currently in service.”
The old Routemasters were scrapped by the previous mayor, Ken Livingstone, largely because they were not accessible.