Commissioner supports Accessible Public Transport
Commissioner supports Accessible Public Transport Inquiry Report
The Health and Disability Commissioner, Ron Paterson, supports the release of The Accessible Journey, the final report by the Human Rights Commission as part of its Inquiry into Accessible Public Land Transport (the Report).
Significant numbers of disabled people in New Zealand experience difficulties when using public land transport services: buses, trains, taxis and related services and infrastructure. This is despite the considerable progress that has been made in improving the accessibility of the public land transport system to date. An ageing population means the need for accessible public land transport services will increase in the next 10 - 20 years. It was therefore timely for the Human Rights Commission to undertake this research into how the accessibility, affordability, availability and acceptability of public transport can be improved for disabled people in the immediate future.
Mr Paterson commends the Human Rights Commission for the extensive work that has been undertaken in preparing the final report, supports the 19 recommendations, and comments on two of the recommendations as follows:
The Report nominates the Ministry of Transport as the lead agency responsible for implementing the recommendations in the Report. It is recommended that the Minister of Transport develop National Accessibility Design Performance Standards within two years. The National Standards will include public land transport conveyances, infrastructure and service information, and will involve a review of the existing standard in relation to the accessibility of buildings and associated facilities. The report recommends a timetable for compliance with the National Standards that spans 30 years, with the majority of services fully complying with the new standards within 10 - 15 years.
While the Report also makes recommendations for national standards in relation to driver training, there are some changes that can be made immediately, with very little expenditure or disruption to existing services. The Report notes that bus drivers can improve their services for disabled people by ensuring that all passengers are seated or secured before moving off, stopping immediately adjacent to the kerb when picking up passengers, avoiding "rough driving", ensuring that all buses pull up to the front of the stop to check whether any passengers are waiting for their service, and ensuring the safe entrance and egress of passengers by providing assistance where necessary.
In relation to rail services, it is recommended that timetables are displayed in large print, station stops are announced, and platform edges are clearly marked in contrasting colours. Stations can improve their services by making ticket sales points accessible, providing both visual and audible information, and announcing cancellations or platform changes early and often.
Mr Paterson comments: "Many of the recommendations in the Report look to the future and the sort of public land transport service disabled people ultimately need to ensure their maximum independence and mobility. However, the practical recommendations that have been suggested in relation to bus and train services are also very important and have the potential to immediately enhance the opportunities for disabled people to access and enjoy using public transport."