Commuters demand improved access

Ghadir Omran
Access to public transport for people with a disability is difficult in Victoria. The Victorian government wrote a plan to improve accessibility on public transport. The plan was to make improvements from 2006 to 2012. Since 2006, there are now more accessible tram stops. There are more low-floor trams and buses. These changes mean more people with a disability can use public transport. But many of the plan ideas have not been done. Many improvements are still not finished. The government has not spent enough money to improve public transport accessibility.
Posted by: 
Ghadir Omran on 16/03/2012
A bus at a bus stop next to a train at the train station.
A bus at a bus stop next to a train at the train station.

Public transport needs to be accessible.

Jennifer has a vision and mobility impairment and frequently travels to Melbourne.

She finds the VLine staff very helpful but complains that when she enters Melbourne's metropolitan system she experiences problems.

Jennifer says the audible announcements on trains are inconsistently broadcast. This means she is often very confused about where the train has stopped. Similarly, she says tram drivers often fail to announce tram stops, even when she requests it.

Geoff expresses his concern over the lack of accessibility in regional towns. He has a mobility impairment and says staff are often unwilling to assist him on and off the train because of occupational, health and safety reasons. He says many people with a disability are forced to rely on multi-purpose taxis in order to move around.

Public transport plans

Since 2006 Victorians have seen an improvement in public transport access but there is still much to be done. People with differing access requirements are finding it difficult to obtain easy access when they travel on Victoria's public transport system.

There have been several public transport plans set in place by the Victorian government. These plans have looked at improving access to public transport, implementing Victorian companion cards, the introduction of the multi-purpose taxi program and the Melbourne mobility centre at Federation Square.

The Accessible Public Transport Action Plan 2006-12 was released in order to meet federal standards according to the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992. The priorities of this plan were to improve access paths, ramps, tactile ground surface indicators, waiting areas and stairs throughout Melbourne's trams, trains and buses. The notable achievements to date include introducing low-floor trams and accessible tram stops, new fully-compliant trains and upgrades to train stations.

Many of these jobs remain listed as 'ongoing' on the Action Plan 2006-12 website indicating much work is needed.

Department of Transport

A study from the Department of Transport by Kroen and Inbakaran examined transport disadvantage in transport and land use strategies in Toronto, San Diego and Denver and the potential implications for Melbourne. The paper was prepared and presented for the Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management (AITPM) National Conference in August 2011.

The study says transport disadvantage for people with a disability exists. They also stress it is necessary to address transport disadvantage in the new transport plan, if one is developed. According to their analysis, it would be useful for Melbourne to have additional plans and strategies for a more targeted approach to transport disadvantage.


The Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) is addressing the transport disadvantage by advocating for improvements to the public transport system. VCOSS stresses that the Victorian Government is unlikely to reach targets set for 2012 due to the lack of funding allocated. Currently VCOSS is actively campaigning for equal access throughout the public transport system through a campaign called All Aboard. This campaign calls for action in the fields of infrastructure, vehicles and information.

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