When people with disabilities are restricted from accessing affordable and convenient public transport in their local area, their ability to participate fully in the community and live independently is also restricted. The issue of accessibility is addressed in Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It states that persons with disabilities should be able to live independently and participate fully on an equal basis in the physical environment and obstacles and barriers to accessibility of roads and transportation should be eliminated. The Australian Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport state:
'Access to public transport is crucial to the ability of people with disability, and their families and carers, to participate fully in community life.'3
The Australian government’s National Disability Strategy also considers inclusive and accessible physical environments, such as public transport, a priority area.
DISABILITY AND AVAILABILITY OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The less severe a person's disability, the more likely they were to use public transport, with 40% of those mildly limited in core activities using public transport compared to 20% of those who were profoundly limited in core activities (Graph 49). Of people with a profound disability, 75% did not use public transport despite the majority of them having public transport available in their local area. Over 60% of those with a schooling or employment restriction did not use public transport.
Of all people with a reported disability, 82% had public transport available in their local area. Out of the 2.0 million people with a specific limitation or restriction who do not use public transport, over 1.5 million did have it available in their local area.
DISABILITY AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT DIFFICULTIES
While public transport may be available in the area a person with a disability lives in, they may not be able to get to the stop or station, or may have trouble accessing the vehicle. While the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport have established minimum accessibility requirements (such as a range of access paths, boarding devices, allocated spaces and handrails), there is a 30 year plan for its implementation. Data suggests inaccessibility is still a problem for many people with disabilities.
Of the estimated 3.8 million people aged 5 years or more with reported disabilities, 1.2 million had difficulty using public transport, 2.6 million had no difficulty using public transport and 37,000 did not leave home (Graph 50). Those with greater restrictions or limitations were more likely to report having difficulty using public transport, except those with schooling or employment restrictions. People with schooling or employment restrictions only are those who need extra support in their schooling or occupation because of their disability but who do not fall into any of the other categories of disability status.
The difficulties people with disabilities experience using public transport vary with the nature of their disability (Graph 51). People with profound core activity limitations reported the most common difficulties they had using public transport were getting to stops or stations (38%) and getting in or out of vehicles or carriages due to steps (48%). In contrast, the main difficulties people with mild core activity limitations reported were due to difficulty getting into or out of vehicles because of steps (23%) and fear and anxiety (14%).
DISABILITY AND HELP AND SUPERVISION NEEDED ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The difficulties encountered using public transport and the amount of help and supervision needed varies depending on the level and type of disability. Of the 3.2 million people with specific limitations or restrictions, 61% could use all forms of public transport with no difficulty, 5% could use some but not all forms of public transport while needing help or supervision, and 15% could not use any form of public transport.
Of the 479,700 people with a profound core activity limitation aged 5 years or more living in households, 11% could use all forms of public transport with no difficulty, 14% could use some but not all forms of public transport while needing help or supervision, and 45% could not use any form of public transport at all (Graph 52).
|DISABILITY AND TRANSPORT MODE
In order for people with disabilities to be able to participate effectively in society, they must be able to access a range of transport options as other citizens do:
Few things are more fundamental than the ability to get where one needs to go. Without access to transport, participation in such critical activities as education, employment and health care is difficult, if not impossible. Yet this is the situation many people with disabilities find themselves in. For most, the inaccessibility of public transport leaves them reliant on family or friends or on the taxi system. Both compromise their ability to live independently. 5
The mode of transport a person with a disability used reflected the level of independence their disability allows them (Graph 53). Just over 580,000 (54%) people with a profound or severe core activity limitation were a passenger in a motor vehicle for their last journey prior to interview, compared to 24% of those with a moderate core activity limitation; 716,000 (59%) people with a mild core activity limitation were the driver of a motor vehicle compared to 25% of those with a profound core activity limitation. Those with profound or severe core activity limitations were the least likely to have walked or used public transport for their last journey.
|People with profound or severe core activity limitations were most likely to have travelled as a passenger in a car regardless of the destination of their last journey, while those with a schooling or employment restriction were most likely to have been the driver of a motor vehicle, regardless of the destination of their last journey.
DISABILITY AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT CONCESSION CARD USE
Transport for people with disabilities can be made more affordable when they have access to a concession card. Of the 1.5 million people with disabilities who use public transport, just over 460,000 (12%) do not use a concession card. Of those who did use a concession card, the most common card used is a pension or benefit concession card (18%), with a seniors card the next most common (7%) (Graph 54).