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Trains, paths and accessibility

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17 March 2021

Transport is an essential part of modern-day society. It delivers millions of people to work, music or sporting events, places of worship and the city centre. Good public transport enables all of us to access places and opportunities beyond the realms of our day-to-day – and to return home safely.

By Edward Daniel

 Transport is an essential part of modern-day society. It delivers millions of people to work, music or sporting events, places of worship and the city centre. Good public transport enables all of us to access places and opportunities beyond the realms of our day-to-day – and to return home safely.

As a core part of an MGAC team, I recently assisted in carrying out audits and inspections for all metro New South Wales train stations. The purpose of this work was clear: to find the current state of accessibility on all state trains.

Finding the same faults

The results of our audit were as to be expected for this type of large-scale review. We found that across the board, a majority of stations showed evidence of the same inadequacies and non-compliances. At the same time, many stations also consistently featured similar key accessibility items throughout the stations. Overall, site-by-site, the same template for accessibility was seen – though it was often deployed in varying ways, and to differing levels of success.

In general, we found a similar suite of accessibility items necessary for a user with a disability to have a safe and seamless journey, including:

  • Boarding Assistance Zone (BAZ) locations
  • Paths
  • Gradients
  • Stairs
  • Lifts
  • Ramps
  • Kiss and rides
  • Accessible car parking.

Despite these features, more needs to be done. Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT) and Building Code of Australia (BCA) standards are ever-developing and are thankfully being increasingly enforced. This is to make sure that items are made compliant to ensure those with a disability are safe through their journey and share the same ease of access and experience as other users.

 

Upgrading with accessible front of mind

The current state of mind of Transport for NSW (TfNSW) is to upgrade the stations that exhibit signs of with limited accessibility, and reduce or replace items of non-compliances throughout all NSW trains. In essence, this approach is one of correcting what is currently incorrect. This is an unprecedented act in NSW transport history, and one that is heavily welcomed by MGAC and the rest of the access community.

Bringing all accessibility items closer to compliance and building standards helps to usher in a proactive way of thinking and doing. This is an important change of mindset from waiting for conditions to be better in the future, or change only happening due to pressure after a fatal accident or negative public relations debacle.  

Doing it now rather than when it is too late is overall good policy thinking on the part of the NSW Government. We are hopeful that change can happen swiftly in the face of instance of non-compliance to ensure an equitable and dignified travel experience for all users.

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