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4 Wheelchair Accessible Public Transport Modes in London

London is a city that is known for its iconic public transportation system. From the famous black cabs to the underground and even the Uber boat, there are plenty of ways to easily get around the city. However, for wheelchair users, finding the right option can be challenging and daunting.

For years, I avoided using public transport in London because I wasn’t sure what the accessibility was like. However, over time, I have gradually gained confidence in using different modes of transport whenever I visit London.

In this post, I will be sharing four wheelchair accessible public transportation options that I have used while travelling around the city.

How to Plan a Step-free Journey using London’s Public Transport

Before I share my experience, here are some apps and websites that can help plan your step-free journeys around London.

  • TfL Go app – Plan your step-free journey with the TfL Go app, which provides real-time information and details about quieter times to travel as well as toilet locations.
  • Citymapper app – Plan and manage your travel options in real-time across all transport modes!
  • TfL Transport accessibility – The TfL website has lots of information on public transport accessibility, help with planning journeys, and more.
  • TfL Access – This Twitter/X account can be used to ask TfL questions about your journey, station accessibility, etc.

London’s Wheelchair Accessible Public Transportation

There are other wheelchair accessible public transport options, but this is what I’ve personally used so far. I haven’t tried the buses in London yet, but I may try that next time, as I know other wheelchair users who travel by bus a lot.

If you have any experience or tips for navigating London’s wheelchair accessible public transportation system, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

1. London Underground (Tube)

While not all stations on the London underground are accessible, there are plenty that are. All new stations are required to be wheelchair accessible, and many existing stations have undergone renovations to make them more accessible as well. 

We took the Jubilee Line from Waterloo Station to North Greenwich Station. The journey took twelve minutes, and both stations had step-free access on the platform (there was a slight gap, but my wheelchair managed to roll over it).

There was a lot of staff around who were happy to help when we felt a little unsure and needed to double-check that we were headed in the right direction.

One member of staff even walked us along the platform to show me where wheelchair users board the tube for level access (the blue dot on the floor).

Emma sat in her wheelchair at the wheelchair boarding spot on the platform waiting on the tube.

I rolled into the wheelchair space, and before I knew it, we were off like a rocket. The tube was so fast that I wasn’t quite prepared for it and didn’t have time to properly position my wheelchair in the space. I believe wheelchair users should position themselves with their backs against the clear partition.   

Emma sat in her wheelchair on the tube.

Transport for London offers a turn up and go service on the Tube, London Overground and Elizabeth line. There is no need to pre-book the turn up and go service; just turn up at the station and ask staff for assistance.

I’m really glad we tried the tube because it saved us so much time and money, and it went a lot smoother than I had originally expected.

Since not all stations are accessible, it’s always best to plan your route and check that the stations are wheelchair accessible before travelling.

2. Uber Boat by Thames Clippers

If you prefer to travel by water, the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers service is a great option. It’s basically a river bus.

All Uber Boats are designed to accommodate wheelchair users, and they stop at 24 piers along the Thames from early morning to late at night, seven days a week. However, Cadogan, London Bridge City, and Wandsworth Riverside Quarter are not wheelchair accessible.

Getting on the Uber Boats can be a little tricky for people with muscle weakness like myself, as some of the piers have a steep gradient and the door into the boat has a small threshold lip.

But once onboard, you will find the wheelchair space towards the back of the boat. It is located next to the door to the outdoor seating deck, but for safety reasons, wheelchair users are not allowed on the deck.

The boats are comfortable on the inside, with a toilet and a café bar that sells refreshments. If you have a River Roamer ticket, you can travel all day and hop on and off the boat as many times as you want. You can also buy single and return tickets in case you don’t want to travel all day.

View of The O2 from inside the Uber Boat on a sunny day.
Emma sat in her wheelchair inside the Uber Boat in London. She is wearing a purple sweatshirt and brown flared leggings.

Disabled people receive a 50% discount on the ticket, and if you require the assistance of a carer, you can get a complimentary companion ticket.

Find out more about accessibility on the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers

3. London Black Cabs

Finding wheelchair accessible taxis can often be a struggle when travelling. However, in London, all black cabs are wheelchair accessible and come with a ramp that folds out from the floor or portable ramps are put in place.

Emma sat outside the Great Scotland Yard hotel. A black cab is parked outside.

The gradient of the ramp can be a little steep depending on whether there is a curb at the pick-up point. In my experience, the cab driver has always been willing to support the back of my wheelchair when I’ve been going up and down the ramp. 

Emma sitting in her wheelchair in the back of a taxi.
London sitting in her wheelchair inside the wheelchair accessible taxi.

Traditional London Black cabs do not have wheelchair securement restraints or seat belts for wheelchair users. Whoever I’m with usually has to support me, as I don’t have upper body strength. 

However, I’ve been in larger, new-style black cabs that had a chest and shoulder harness I was able to use.

London cabs can be hailed in the street, so there is no requirement to book in advance, unlike many other cities. The cab is available if the taxi sign is lit.

Uber Access London 

I have also used Uber Access in London and found the vehicles to be suitable for my wheelchair. Uber’s wheelchair accessible vehicles have a rear entry ramp and wheelchair securement restraints. 

Unlike London Black Cabs, Uber Access needs to be booked via the Uber app and the wait time can vary. So if you don’t have time to wait, you might be best to get a black cab.

4. London Train travel

I haven’t used any of the rail services that run in and around London. I have only travelled to and from London Euston station from Edinburgh and Glasgow on Avanti West Coast.

Everything went well, from arranging passenger assistance to boarding the train and the service onboard. The wheelchair space was spacious, comfortable, and located near the accessible toilet. Boarding and disembarking were both quick and easy, which was a big advantage.

Emma sat next to an Avanti West Coast train at Glasgow Central station. She is wearing a purple sweatshirt and brown flared leggings. Emma is looking over for shoulder and smiling at the camera.
Emma sat in the wheelchair space onboard the Avanti West Coast train

Find out more about my experience travelling with Avanti West Coast as a wheelchair user.

It’s always a good idea to check with the train operator ahead of time to ensure that the train you’ll be travelling on meets your accessibility needs, and to make any necessary arrangements and book passenger assistance.

Conclusion

There are plenty of wheelchair accessible transportation options in London, from black cabs to the underground, Uber boats, and trains. With a little bit of planning and research, it’s possible to get around the city as a wheelchair user using public transportation.

I’d love to hear about your own experiences using London’s public transport as a wheelchair user. What’s your favourite wheelchair accessible way to get around in London? Do you have any tips and recommendations? Pop them in our comments below!

Where Next: You Might Also Enjoy

11 Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in London

Train Travel to London: Avanti West Coast Trains

Up at The O2 Wheelchair Climb Review

3 Days In London | Where We Stayed And What We Did

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Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

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