People with a disability have the same rights to access public transport as anyone else in the community. But using public transport can be very challenging for people with vision impairment.
Transport in regional Victoria
I have lived in Melbourne and different places in regional Victoria. I am blind. It has not always been easy to get around. But I always try to be positive. I find creative solutions to problems.
When I lived in a town near Mildura there was no nearby public transport. Fortunately, there were many kind and friendly people who lived close by. We all helped each other.
If I needed a ride to the city or to work I would walk along the dusty road. Someone I knew would always pick me up. A good friend taught me how to get from my house to the local post office. There was no footpath for some of the way. There was also no road crossings. I used tree stumps and poles as my landmarks. I also used the sun to guide me.
Walking without fear
I walked without fear. I always got to where I wanted to go. Some family members would say that I did not travel safely. They wondered why I would want to live in “the middle of nowhere”. But I would say that I had the right to live wherever I wanted. I was told that living in the city near a train station would be safer. But I liked the national parks and the stillness.
I also enjoyed living near Kinglake. My favourite place was St Andrews Community Market on Saturdays. Getting to the market was always an adventure. I never knew who I would meet along the way. I always got a ride. I made many friends.
Transport in the city
Living in Melbourne can be easier than living in regional Victoria. Trains, trams and buses are easy to access. Railway staff can be particularly helpful. Public transport is better. But where are the friendly faces? Where is the community spirit? People in the city could learn a lot from those in regional Victoria.
There are plenty of other changes to public transport that could assist me. I am not happy that there are no Braille timetables at railway stations or on buses. There also needs to be instant audio timetables at all tram stops and train stations. It is also important to have the tactile ground surface indicators moved further away from the edge of platforms. I would also like more accessible information for travellers. Many public transport websites are not accessible to people with vision impairment. There are also often no audio announcements on trains, trams and buses. Some drivers forget to tell me when I reach my stop.
I hope the new Victorian Government shows a commitment to improving the accessibility of public transport. I also want to see improvements to pedestrian crossings for the safety for pedestrians who are vision impaired. We need more audible traffic signals. We also need more assistance like Travellers' Aid for people with a disability, particularly in the suburbs and regional areas.
I will continue to travel on public transport with confidence. But I will also continue to fight for more accessible public transport for everyone.