All aboard for public transport

Graeme Turner
If you have trouble getting on and off trams, trains or buses, what can be done about making this a little easier? Two weeks ago about 30 people gathered at Parliament House in Melbourne. They were there for the All Aboard campaign. They want public transport in Victoria that can be easily used. They want people with mobility impairments to be able to independently use trains, buses and trams. They are asking for more audio announcements at stops. They want the government to understand that all people should be equal when using public transport.
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Graeme Turner on 03/05/2012
A woman in a wheelchair is using a manual ramp to board the train.

Level platforms are needed.

Two weeks ago on the steps of Victoria's Parliament House a cluster of balloons sprouted like multi-coloured-grapes above a gathering of about thirty people. Some of the people were wheelchair users, many others brandished handles of white canes.

They were there for the All Aboard campaign, which was taking to the roads and rails of the city in order to push for equality of public transport access for those with a disability.

Accessible transport

I guess the absolute end point would be an entire transport system, user friendly and accessible for everyone, says Beck from the All Aboard Action Network.

The campaigners want public transport to be accessible to all those with physical disabilities, sensory impairment and with mobility issues including people with prams or pushers.

The organisers are pushing for action in the following areas:

  • Train stations and tram stops to have level platform surfaces to permit independent access on trains and trams for people with mobility impairments.
  • An accessible bus fleet with low-floor vehicles and with enough room to accommodate mobility aids.
  • Consistent interior design in order to allow easy and familiarised passage.
  • Transport information to be displayed with clear signage and with audio announcements for people with blindness or low vision.
  • Tactile directional indicators to provide high contrast and raised surfaces for those with blindness or low vision.
  • Good access features on all transport including sufficient handrails.
  • Accessible pathways between station platforms and outside streets.
  • Comfortable waiting areas in which people can shelter in all weather.
  • Public transport websites to be readable when magnified and to allow software to read out text on computer screens.

All aboard

The All Aboard Action Network came together 18 months ago. It brings together a range of different groups who are passionate about getting a better deal for transport access.

Campaign leader Michael took to the microphone with his voice ringing across Spring Street that inaccessible is unacceptable.

Whenever I'm able to, I'll get involved in some action that can get the government involved in accessible public transport projects such as easy access stops for trams, or Metro wheelchair ramps, says Michael.

On one occasion Michael was on the wrong tram line and required helpful passengers to carry his scooter off the vehicle. It's also not always guaranteed you can get off at the right stop in your suburb, he says.

Call to action

We're calling upon the government to make sure that everybody matters and everybody counts and that everybody is equal, says campaign speaker Brandon.

The call to action was put out which drew a full throated chorus of support from the assembled crowd. Michael invited them to get all aboard for the campaign.

As the balloons began to be plucked from the air and those with wheelchairs and canes began to disperse, it was clear this campaign journey for accessible public transport is only just beginning.

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