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Review – DOI on DDA – Transport Newsletter #26

Posted in Policies by Ferne Edwards on August 13th, 2007

By guest author, Stephen Ingrouille, Principal, Going Solar
Reproduced with permission from Transport Newsletter #26,

Congratulations to Victorias Department of Infrastructure (DOI) for organising an excellent one day forum on accessible public transport. There were many stories relating to the success of local (often voluntary) community transport and demand-responsive (tele-) buses as well as the much more contentious lack of appropriate transit for those using wheelchairs. Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliance is a starting point but what is clear is the need for better systems to stop people becoming isolated in their homes or stranded in the streets.

Earlier this year my parents, both in their 80s, were in town. Try moving two elderly people on our transit system and then you start to realise the difficulties, and the importance of good planning. One thing that came from the conference that I had not realised is that elderly people fear falling on trams which deters their patronage.

The key problem in desperate need of resolution is the dilemma of transporting people in wheel chairs. At the moment this falls to the taxi industry, and while there are some very responsive drivers it seems that part of the problem is the booking process and part is the taxi ownership system. On a cold and wet
Melbourne night I hate waiting even ten minutes for a tram – how much worse where people are waiting two or three hours, constantly being told that a taxi will turn up in five minutes. I know that the complaints we heard are true because Ive heard similar ones before. It is certainly unacceptable and as one delegate noted: ‘if we can move a parcel by courier across the city; we should easily be able to move people in need.

Another problem is how do people with restricted sight know which vehicle is for them? An approaching truck for example can sound like a bus. I have seen a solar powered device that can be mounted at bus and tram stops. When a button is pressed, a beam of light is sent alerting a driver that someone is waiting at a stop. It ought not to be too hard to have various colour lights that can be selected by the waiting patrons to signal a particular bus or tram where multiple services share a route.

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