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Freedom to Ride for People with Disabilities

Commission Commission – General

25
October 2002

Freedom
to Ride for People with Disabilities

New transport Standards
under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act became law this week.
These Standards will enable people with disabilities, as well as other
Australians, to have access to most public transport throughout the country
within a maximum 20-year period.

"This is a very
exciting landmark for Australians with disabilities. I congratulate the
Commonwealth Government on the passage of this law, and particularly the
Attorney-General who has been personally very committed to its passage,"
said Deputy Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Graeme Innes.

"State and Commonwealth
Governments, the transport industry and representatives of people with
a disability have all made important contributions to this process. Making
transport accessible is a huge infrastructural change, probably the largest
physical change to Australian society in which this Commission has been
involved" Mr Innes said.

The Standard, commencing
tomorrow, sets out a 20-year timetable by which almost all public transport
will become accessible. Twenty-five percent must be accessible within
5 years, 55% within 10 years, 90% within 15 years and 100% within 20 years.
All new public transport structures and rolling stock from today onwards
must also be accessible.

"In fact, many
transport providers are well ahead of the game," Mr Innes said.

"The State Transit
Authority in NSW, for example, reached the 25% landmark for its buses
last month, and already a significant number of Cityrail's stations are
accessible. Many other transport providers around the country are in similar
positions. I think most public transport will be accessible well before
the end of the 20 years," he said.

Examples of access
include: low-floor buses which enable people with mobility disabilities,
as well as many older Australians or parents with strollers, to board
more easily; ramps and lifts in railway stations; and announcements on
trains and at stations to provide information to people who are blind
or vision impaired.

Media Contacts: Janine
MacDonald 02 9284 9791, James Deefholts 02 9284 9618

Last
updated 2 December 2001.