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Access targets set for transport industry in Aus

Under a new agreement between the transport industry and the disability sector, the transport industry will be obliged to meet access targets for disabled passengers within five years, Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Jocelyn Newman, said today.

"One of the biggest hurdles facing people with disabilities being more fully involved in the community and the workforce is accessible transport," Senator Newman said.

The Howard Government has announced that the response time for taxis must be the same for both able bodied and disabled passengers within five years.

In addition, 25% of buses must be accessible within 5 years, 55% within 10 years, 80% within 15 years and 100% within 20 years.

These requirements, and others, have been agreed by the Federal Government and are outlined in the new Disability Standards for Public Transport. The cost for transport operators to comply with these changes is $2.4 billion.

"The disability sector has been negotiating new Standards for around a decade and I am proud that the Howard Government has been able to deliver this significant breakthrough for people living with disabilities," Senator Newman said.

Mr Mark Bagshaw, International Marketing Manager of IBM and Chairman of the Ability Australia Foundation says Australia currently is not a leader when it comes to accessible transport for people with disabilities. Mr Bagshaw cites the example of his inability to get a suitable taxi at Sydney airport, even though there were 200 in the taxi rank.

"Transport is crucial for people with disabilities, their carers and their families in improving quality of life and will be essential for increasing their economic and social participation.

"These new standards are a great step forward for people with disabilities and their families," Senator Newman said.

Further enquiries can be made via www.australia.org.nz


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