Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Application pursuant to section 55 for exemption from a provision or provisions of Part 2, Divisions 1 and 2
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission gives notice of a decision made on 15 March 1999 under section 57 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 ("DDA") concerning trams and light rail in Melbourne.
The exemption application was submitted jointly by
- the Public Transport Corporation (PTC) established under the Transport Act 1993 (Vic.)
- Met Tram 1 and Met Tram 2, established under the Rail Corporations (Amendment) Act 1997 (Vic.), and which are now known as Yarra Trams (YT) and Swanston Trams (ST)
- the Department of Infrastructure (DoI) which administers the operation of public transport in Victoria under the provisions of the Transport Act and other legislation
- the Minister for Transport for the State of Victoria.
Decision of the Commission
The Commission grants a conditional exemption from the provisions of section 23 and section 24 of the DDA in respect of the manner in which the applicants provide tram and light rail services in Melbourne. The exemption extends only to matters:
- arising from provision of services using vehicles forming part of the applicants' fleet at the date of this decision and
- relating to physical access to those vehicles.
The exemption is subject to the following conditions.
exemption commences on 16 March 1999 and expires on 15 March 2004.
applicants are to implement the action plan 21st Century Accessibility
(the action plan) lodged under DDA section 64 with the Commission on
4 November 1999, as varied by the amendment to that action plan
lodged by the applicants on 9 March 1999.
prejudice to the importance of the action plan as a whole the
applicants are to implement the following undertakings given in
the action plan:
- provided that an adequate interface between low floor trams and infrastructure can be achieved, new trams will be introduced in Melbourne commencing in 2002 with 106 vehicles being replaced by the end of 2004 by 90 larger capacity low-floor vehicles
- apart from the issues of physical access dealt with by the exemption the applicants will bring existing trams into compliance with the draft DDA Standards for Accessible Public Transport by continuing the program of on-vehicle measures including improvements to such features as stop buttons, pull cords, grab rails, handrails, lighting along tram aisles and destination signs
53 W-Class trams to be retained for heritage purposes will operate
according to the scheme described in section 5.4.6 of the action plan
only on routes where as far as reasonably possible an accessible alternative
is available or will become available.
a routinely timetabled service operated by W-Class trams is provided
to the public free of charge on a particular route then the accessible
alternative must be provided free of charge to those people with disabilities
who are unable to access W-Class trams at least as frequently as the
service provided by the W-Class trams.
applicants are to require as far as possible that any person who
operates privatised services will also implement the action plan
or an action plan lodged by that person that is at least as beneficial
to people with disabilities as the action plan.
applicants are to publish annually a report on progress towards
implementing the action plan and are to include in that report
any steps taken by operators of privatised services that improve
accessibility. This condition applies not only to tram and light rail
services but to all matters covered by the action plan.
- If the applicants conclude that an adequate interface between low floor trams and infrastructure cannot be achieved and the introduction of low floor trams cannot commence in 2002 then the Commission will consider alternative appropriate exemption conditions that will facilitate implementation of the action plan.
The effect of the decision is that if the applicants commence in 2002 to replace with accessible trams their existing fleet then they will not be acting unlawfully in continuing to provide services with trams that are now part of their fleet even though those may be inaccessible to some people with disabilities.
This decision applies to services operated by the applicants and to privatised services as defined in the finding and reasons referred to below.
Finding and reasons
In making this decision the Commission accepted the findings and reasons contained in the recommendation and statement of reasons prepared by the Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner and published by the Commission on the Internet at the following address:
Copies may also be obtained by telephoning the Commission's Disability Rights Unit on 02 9284 9613.
Review of decision
Subject to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975, application may be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision to which this notice relates by or on behalf of any person or persons whose interests are affected by the decision.
on behalf of the Commission
16 March 1999