Disabled Barkingside man goes on Tube for first time thanks to new boarding ramps

A 54-year-old disabled man who went on the Tube for the first time yesterday (Wednesday) has described the experience as “very good”.

Father-of-three Navin Bedia could not access the Tube because many stations do not have lifts or ramps on to the trains.

During the Olympics and Paralympics ramps have been brought into some unTube stations, but none of the three stations surrounding his house have them.

Mr Bedia, who lives in Hamilton Avenue, Barkingside, travelled to Woodford Tube station, Station Approach, Woodford Green by taxi for his first journey to Stratford.

“It went quite well actually. It was very good. They did well by trying to accommodate me but they didn’t have the ramp ready at Stratford,” he said. “If they had ramps on the trains I would not have to wait for anybody and in case of emergencies they should have them.”

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Mr Bedia was given a freedom pass which allows older or disabled people to access public transport for free.

He said: “Why give me a bus pass when I cannot access any bus or train? I have a small mobility scooter which can fit into a cab.”

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Mr Bedia started using his mobility scooter in 2004 after sustaining six slipped discs in his back. He now has to travel everywhere by taxi despite wanting to use public transport.

“It should not be like this, when there are buses and trains running all around us,” he said. “I don’t want to wait for my son to take me out. I can do it myself, I want to do things by myself. I may be disabled but I’m still a human being.”

At the moment about one in five Tube stations have a lift. But as trains are not always the same height as the platform, this does not always mean disabled people can board.

“We should not be imprisoned in our own home but we are,” added Mr Bedia.

Mike Brown, London Underground managing director, said: “The London 2012 Games has the most accessible public transport system of any Olympic or Paralympic Games in history.

“We want to keep them [the manual boarding ramps] and we are looking now at how that will all work after the Paralympics.”

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