melbourne trams exemption noticeNotice of HREOC exemption decision re: Public Transport Corporation (Victoria) and Others

Disability Discrimination Act 1992

Application pursuant to section 55 for exemption from a provision or provisions of Part 2, Divisions 1 and 2

Notice of decision

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.

  1. The exemption commences on 16 March 1999 and expires  on 15 March 2004.
  2. The 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.
  3. Without prejudice to the importance of the action  plan as a whole the applicants are to implement the following undertakings  given in the action plan:
    1. 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
    2. 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
    3. the 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.
  4. Where 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.
  5. The 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.
  6. The 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.
  7. 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.

Alice Tay

on behalf of the Commission

16 March 1999