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Improving Accessibility: New Standards for Wheelchair Taxis

By the Specialist Reporting Team's Evan Young

Posted 2 minutes ago

The Australian federal government has taken a crucial step towards enhancing accessibility for millions of Australians with disability. After two decades, the first major overhaul of public transport accessibility standards has been announced.

Background

For years, people with disabilities have faced challenges navigating public transport systems across the country. The existing accessibility standards were often inadequately enforced, leaving many feeling frustrated and excluded.

Key Reforms

The updated standards introduce several important changes:

  • Accessible Timetables: Public transport timetables and updates will now be provided in accessible formats, ensuring that everyone can plan their journeys with confidence.
  • Wheelchair Taxi Spaces: Taxi ranks will be required to increase the ratio of wheelchair-accessible taxi spaces. This move aims to address the longstanding issue of insufficient accessible taxis.
  • Vertical Edge Barriers: Boarding ramps will now feature vertical edge barriers, allowing wheelchair users to board transport more safely.
  • Next Stop Announcements: Announcements will include both signage and audio, ensuring passengers are informed about upcoming stops.
  • Staff Training: Transport company staff will receive training to better understand their roles and legal responsibilities.

Advocacy and Implementation

Disability advocates are urging transport companies and state/territory governments to swiftly implement these reforms. The goal is to create a more inclusive and supportive transport system for all.

While trains and trams have until 2032 to comply, all other transport infrastructure was expected to meet the old standards by the end of 2022. Unfortunately, this deadline was missed.

Transport Minister Catherine King emphasized that these new standards will empower users, allowing them to plan and undertake their journeys with greater certainty.

If you have a story to share about your experiences with public transport accessibility, please email [email protected].

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