Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cost/Benefit Analysis

I notice that a great deal of work is being done to make the London Underground accessible to wheelchair users.

All very laudable, you might think.

The only problem is that the design of most of the Underground makes it essentially impossible to provide step free access from Street to Platform at almost all of the deep line stations. The cost of providing such access is essentially the same cost as building a complete a complete new Underground system. This is a sum of money that is about equal to the total annual GDP of the UK- One Trillion Pounds, probably not counting the economic dislocation that such a massive job would cause.

There are people who think that this money should be spent regardless. Certainly new stations should be built with wheelchair access in mind- as has been the case with the Jubilee line. Where possible, older stations could also be modified. However those who want immediate and complete wheelchair access are demanding a benefit that is out of all proportion to the enormous cost.

It is not just disabled access. In most fields of British politics at the moment, it is pretty clear that adequate cost/benefit analysis is simply not undertaken. Massive over regulation is now required of small businesses that carries a burden way in excess of any conceivable benefits.

Even giving every wheelchair user a gold plated Rolls Royce and chauffeur on call 24 hours a day is a tiny fraction of the cost of rebuilding the Underground. There are far more helpful and realistic options in helping wheelchair users get practically mobile.

There is an urgent need to subject most regulations to a cost benefit analysis- and abolish the ones that do not measure up.


Will said...

Then there is the accepted equivalance between disabled access and wheelchair access. Are they also making Underground stations more accessible for the blind and the deaf?

Dan said...

You could of course spend about a hundreth of the amount designing a wheelchair to go down escalators.

Something for London Underground to invest in perhaps?