Policy Submission: Investment in Public Passenger Transport Infrastructure and Services
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JFA Purple Orange made this submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport’s Inquiry into the investment of Commonwealth and State funds in public passenger transport infrastructure and services. The purpose of the submission is to highlight the need for investment to improve the accessibility of public passenger transport for people living with disability to ensure their contribution to, and participation within, the community.
Recommendation 1 - Fully accessible “multi-purpose” taxi fleet
We recommend that a fully accessible “multi-purpose” taxi fleet be established to provide people living with disability with greater choice and opportunity to be included in the community through reducing:
- Taxi response time as a result of more taxis being available
- The need for people to call in advance and use specialist booking services, providing them with the opportunity to hail taxis when required.
Recommendation 2 - Investment in disability awareness training for drivers and taxi sector
We recommend investment in training to raise awareness about the different types of disabilities people live with, as well as training on the use of relevant assistive equipment such as ramps and the use of straps. The training will be more effective if it is provided in consultation with people living with disability.
Recommendation 3 - Investment in training, so that airline industry policies and practices respond to the needs of people living with disability
We recommend there be a focus on:
- Providing regular disability awareness training to all air industry staff including the importance of treating people with respect and dignity and how to use specialised equipment such as lifting devices. The training will be more effective if it is provided in consultation with people living with disability;
- Giving priority to the loading of mobility aids, such as scooters on flights as required;
- Developing communication processes to make certain that information relayed at booking time is given to all relevant people to ensure that all personal requirements are met in a timely manner upon arrival at the airport to the point where the person arrives at their destination;
- Mandatory monitoring of progress and provision of accessibility measures to ensure consistency within the industry.
Recommendation 4 - Invest in subsidies to assist people living with disability to travel by air
- In situations where people are required to travel with support, introduce subsidies to offset the costs of having to pay for an extra ticket.
- We recommend the expense of damage to mobility aids be met by airlines or that low cost insurance be offered to cover the cost of repairs.
Recommendation 5 - Invest in provision of lifting aids on planes to reduce risk of injury to passengers living with disability and airline staff
A lifter called the Eagle Lifter has been developed which provides greater safety to people living with disability and airline staff through reducing the need for manual transfers to access planes. Through using the Eagle Lifter people are able to access planes in their own wheelchair and be transferred directly to their airline seat. Qantas currently use this lifting device for its commercial jets and smaller commuter planes. Background information on the Eagle Lifter can be found at: http://www.haycomp.com.au/default.cfm?id=82.
Recommendation 6 - Invest in establishing an airport service specifically designed to assist people living with disability to access airlines
Currently it is a requirement that airlines provide assistance to people living with disability to access their planes. This can create inconsistencies in the assistance provided as staff at different airlines may have differing levels of training and experience in providing the support required. We recommend the establishment of a service at airports that specifically focuses on supporting people living with disability to access any airline. This will ensure greater consistency in the assistance provided through creating a situation where the staff provide regular support to people living with disability and have the necessary training and experience required. This currently is the practice in Canada airports.
Recommendation 7 - Investment in making buses and bus infrastructure accessible
We recommend there be a combined investment in making buses as well as bus infrastructure accessible, as both are necessary to ensure that people living with disability and by association older persons with less mobility, and young families with strollers, are able to freely travel by bus.
Recommendation 8 - Investment in awareness training for bus drivers and operators
Recommendation 9 - Investment in provision of automated or level access on and off trains
Reducing the reliance on assistance from train staff to enter and leave trains is essential in ensuring that people living with disability are provided with the freedom to board and depart the train independently. This can be addressed through creating level access to trains or providing automated or electronic ramps. Below is a link to an overseas example of providing level access to trains.
- In the United Kingdom the ‘George’ platform hump provides level access to trains in their subways – http://www.education.edean.org/pdf/Case021.pdf
Recommendation 10 - Investment in awareness training for train industry staff
Recommendation 11 - Investment in improving signage to ensure that sufficient space is available for people living with disability using trains