25 years since the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, 6 years since Access to Premises (Building) Standards 2011 were implemented, you’d be forgiven for believing we’ve no reason in Australia for not being able to access infrastructure as significant in our community as public transport.
If I asked you, do you think your local train station is disability accessible, without checking, would you say yes?
Many are of the belief that most stations are disability accessible despite what is in fact an incredibly poor compliance rate among he 154 stations on the Queensland Rail Brisbane network.
For a train station to be accessibly compliant it must be independently wheelchair accessible to all platforms, have tactile ground surface indicators on platform edges and electronic timetables.
If a station has car parking or toilets those must also be disability accessible.
All stations built SINCE 2012 meet compliance which is probably why the numbers are as high as they are being that the Redcliffe Peninsula Line and Springfield lines did not begin until after the standards were implemented. Which when I tell you the numbers, makes it quite astounding to learn such little has been done over the past 5 years to improve station accessibility.
So I want you to think about the stations you use. If you had a disability would you be able to use them independently?
How many of the 154 stations do you think are fully compliant?
Yes just to confirm for you that is not a typo, 27 stations or 17.5% of the network is compliant.
This means people with disabilities either need assistance to access or cannot access at all, one hundred and twenty seven stations.
51 stations have no tactile edges. This is one of the easiest compliance issues to rectify.
75 stations have no independent wheelchair access, with 26 having no wheelchair access at all.
So why does compliance take so long? My personal opinion is bad management but it comes down to money.
So that large corporations and organisations weren’t disadvantaged (I know, ironic right!?) there was an inclusion in the legislation for them to apply for an exemption due to unjustifiable hardship (again I know, the many is not lost on me either).
The Australasian Railways Association continues to apply for exemptions for all rail services in Australia, regardless of the individual business’s financial capacity. Queensland Rail have comfortably hidden behind this for years and as stations continue to deteriorate so does the service.
Just recently we’ve seen a number of reports of disabled people being stranded on platforms & trains and all of these incidents have been preventable.
Ramp access from platforms to trains where the platform is lower than the train still remains assisted and somewhat dangerous. The ramps are portable and have no fixable point relying on staff to hold them in place.
Just when you think it can’t get any worse, we’re about to see the release of NGR (New Generation Rollingstock) trains that pose a list of access issues that Queensland Rail are still trying to rectify. So even if we manage to get onto a station platform, well, chances are we won’t be getting on that train anyway.
Look at us. 2017, still fighting to get access to public transport, still fighting for that accessible parking space and yet all some people want to know is why we don’t just get jobs.
Maybe Qld Rail could hire me to find the solutions to the access issues. Heaven knows, I’ve tried giving them some of the solutions for free but no one really seems to want to listen.
For ongoing coverage of the NGR issues I recommend following @InclusionMoves on twitter.
As for platforms…. well, I’m going to recommend this reading to several members of parliament. If access to trains is something that affects you, or someone you know, feel free to send this to your state member.