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Continued discriminatory treatment of disabled passengers

Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health

Friday 5 April 2013 Media Statement

Minister of Disability Issues alarmed at continued discriminatory treatment of disabled passengers

The Minister for Disability Issues, Tariana Turia has called for Tauranga Bus Company ‘Go Bus’ and all public transport companies to review its policies and provide staff training immediately following a third incident of discriminatory treatment of a disabled resident trying to board a bus.

“I’m alarmed that within the space of a few months two disabled passengers have experienced discrimination while trying to board Bay Hopper buses,” says Minister Turia.

Minister Turia recently responded to a newspaper article in the Bay of Plenty Times about the treatment of Peter Baker, who relies on a four wheel drive wheelchair for mobility, after having twice been denied access on local buses in Tauranga.

“Now it seems another disabled Tauranga resident has had an unpleasant experience. I was distressed to hear about Ashleigh Dixon’s story and how she has been humiliated. It is degrading for this young woman to have to reveal an empty eye socket before a Bay Hopper bus driver would agree to issue her with a concession fare - despite presenting her Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind ID card to him which entitled her to the equivalent of a student fare.”

“This ID card should have been sufficient for the driver to issue this young woman with a student fare ticket. Instead, she suffered humiliation by not being believed and by having to draw attention to her disability to prove her loss of sight.”

“To add further to the discriminatory treatment of Ashleigh other drivers have blatantly been unwilling to give her information about where the bus was going or the right bus stop to disembark, despite the fact that she has a visual impairment.”

“Those who live with disability have a right to access transport, health and education services around the country. I urge Go Bus and other public transport services around the country to be inclusive not exclusive. Go Bus and the companies it contracts must change the way they perceive those with disabilities and ensure their services are inclusive of all.”

“Accessing transport is crucial for everyone including those with disabilities who also work and who also participate in the community."

“I reiterate that Go Bus, the bus service operator, should monitor driver behaviour to ensure every bus user is treated fairly. People with disabilities often tell me it is not their disability that is the problem, but rather it is the way the disabilities are viewed by others. Go bus exemplifies that view through this discriminatory behaviour.”

ENDS

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