Disability and public transport

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People often underestimate how much people with disabilities rely on public transport. For people like myself who cant drive, public transport is the only other option after waiting for someone to drive you to where you need to go. Accessible taxis are hardly, an option; the price is still too steep, even after the Total Mobility Scheme subsidy. For many people with disabilities who rely on welfare, options are further reduced.

Aucklanders are lucky in this regard. AT’s accessibility concession gives us child prices, so long as their morale can handle the odd driver who is reluctant to help them, but that is a separate matter altogether.

Those in other parts of the country however, do not enjoying that same privilege. Learning disability self-advocacy organisation, People First are currently aiming to provide a discount bus card for people with disabilities in Tauranga. This will be a similar scheme to the Gold Card for the elderly.

This is the type of lobbying that needs to occur across the country. Better yet, I would like to see legislation, much like the Gold Card scheme that ensures commuters with disabilities can gain affordable and reliable public transport.

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This is simply a case of improving the quality of life for a group of people who are traditionally expected to be invisible in society. This is an out-dated mentality that has no place in this day and age. In order for us to change this however, we need to make seriously large steps in the direction of fairness, acceptance and inclusion. Easily accessible and affordable transport across the country is one of these crucial steps.

1 COMMENT

  1. Couldn’t agree more.
    Having epilepsy, that’s an automatic driving ban for obvious reasons, so public transport it is. Go Wellington buses has a beneficiary pass for off-peak travel if you’re on Invalids/SLP but it’s never been advertised, it’s word of mouth only so they prefer us not to know it exists. And try showing one of those cards to the driver when you don’t even “look” disabled. I still get suspicious looks. It also can’t be used on any other public transport in the Wellington region. We’re also starting to worry it’ll be under threat when the transport system here is scheduled for total reform in a couple of years. fares in Wgtn are so expensive that if you’re on a benefit/low income many are now priced out of going anywhere.

    I am please to see though, that when they upgraded their bus fleet a few years ago most of the buses became accessible, and I’ve seen an increase of wheelchair users which is how it should be.

    Given that there’s not an overly large number of people in NZ with disabilities who are reliant on public transport (compared with those eligible for the Gold Card), I don’t think us having a similar sort of national pass- even one that provided a fare discount- would break the bank of the transport companies. Especially since it’s a given benefits aren’t going to be increased in the forseeable future and transport fares are.

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