Pressure during traffic hours: The challenges in accessing public transport for people with disability
Although policies have been enacted to improve the accessibility of public transport for people with disability, most policies do not focus on people with disability interacting with public transport officers. To access the best wheelchair friendly places or restaurants in Melbourne, public transport has been a reliable way to travel for all people
During heightened traffic times with a large number of passengers, people with disabilities may not be properly attended to or be able to signal their need for assistance or to signal their stop to the drivers. For instance, the bus has a specialised area situated in the middle of the bus for people with disability. Yet during peak traffic hours, when there are a lot of passengers on board, moving to the reserved area can be difficult for people with disabilities. Meanwhile, the driver could be pressured to drive the passengers to the bus stops in a timely manner, which decreases their capability to attend to passengers with disabilities.
Furthermore, officers may not be equipped with enough resources to support people with disabilities in extreme weather conditions. As drivers can work long-hour in extreme heat and cold, they can be easily exhausted and not be able to properly support passengers with disabilities. In particular, extreme heat can decrease drivers’ attention and awareness, which is crucial for people with disabilities because they require more effort to signal for help. The fact that officers operating public transport work physically by themselves means that they may have less support to assist passengers with disability.
Public transport operators may not have skills to talk to people with disabilities from multiple cultures. In a multicultural society like Australia, people with disabilities come from different cultures and languages and communicating their needs to public transport officers can be difficult. Simply, the difference between American sign language and other sign language can create a bit of a difficulty for people with deafness to communicate with public officers. Thus PTV’s policies like walk a day in their shoes should incorporate cultural components to help officers be more attentive to people with
Currently, buses and trams are shared spaces for the public, but there is still little consideration given to people with disabilities. The physical design of the buses and trams have clear spots for those using a mobility aid to sit or ride on the public transport, however the public transport operators must be given more resources in order to create a seamless public transport experience for those with a disability. To promote the importance of wheelchair accessibility and people with disabilities, policies should not be focused on adapting trams to the needs of people with passengers but actually be more committed to their demands.
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