Saturday, 21 October 2017
Disabled passengers unable to board 10 per cent of Adelaide Metro buses
Steve Rice | Adelaide Advertiser
WHEELCHAIR users are being stranded at bus stops in extreme weather because they are unable to board the all the buses in the Adelaide Metro fleet.
One in 10 of the network’s 990 buses does not have provisions to allow wheelchair users to board — and it will be four years until the fleet becomes fully accessible.
The situation has been described as unacceptable by a leading disability advocate, while the Opposition has accused the State Government of prioritising new trams over wheelchair access.
Several wheelchair users were witnessed by the Sunday Mail being forced to wait at bus stops for another service in unseasonably warm weather and heavy rain this month.
Dignity Party MP Kelly Vincent said: “It’s not acceptable that, in 2017, 10 per cent of our Adelaide’s public bus fleet is inaccessible.”
“Wheelchair users and mobility aid users are often left waiting on the roadside in the heat or rain, waiting for a bus to show up that we can access,” Ms Vincent said.
“This is especially the case when train lines are down and older inaccessible buses are put on to replace them, completely throwing off our days.
“Given our ageing population, it just makes good sense to invest in transport everyone can use. Ultimately, everybody helps pay for it, so everybody should be able to use it.”
A Transport Department spokeswoman said it was working towards a 100 per cent accessible bus fleet by 2021 as required under the Disability Discrimination Act.
“While Adelaide Metro provides accessible buses for as many services as possible, non-accessible buses are still used in order to maintain frequency of services,” the spokeswoman said.
“Passengers who require an accessible bus can contact the bus depot on the morning of their intended day of travel to ensure an accessible bus is available for their service.”
The State Government last week put out a 10-year, $300 million tender to build 400 new buses to replace ageing vehicles in its fleet.
Opposition transport spokesman David Pisoni said an elected Liberal Government would aim to “as quickly as possible” prioritise full accessibility for disabled passengers.
He criticised the State Government for putting the tram extension project ahead of upgrading the City South tram stop, where there is no wheelchair access.
“Disabled access on public transport is not a priority for (the State Government),” he said.