State Government off-track with disabled commuters

By RYAN COLSEY

The $2 billion ‘Road, Rail and Port’ plan, put forward by the State Government to extend tram routes across Adelaide, is a key issue in this month’s state election.

Labor’s press release announced the plan would create 1700 additional jobs.

It includes an extension along The Parade in Norwood, located in the seat of Dunstan, which is currently held by State Opposition leader Steven Marshall.

Public transport is an important service for many Dunstan residents. According to 2016 Census data, 11.2 per cent of the electorate aged over 15 catch public transport to get to work. This compares to the South Australian average of 7.2 per cent.

Ben Wilson, Dignity Party candidate for Dunstan, has raised concerns about the project, targeting Labor’s poor track record in providing equitable access for disabled commuters.

“More than a decade after the City South tram stop was opened, it remains inaccessible to wheelchair users – this is not acceptable,” he said.

Mr Wilson suffers from Huntington’s disease and is confined to a wheelchair, making commuting difficult for him.

While the Dignity Party supports extending the tram network to the east of the city, Mr Wilson said the current model offered by Labor needs further scrutiny.

This includes examining the extension’s environmental impact and its accessibility to people with mobility issues, including the elderly.

Running on a platform of treating all people with respect, Mr Wilson said the existing public transport modes were unacceptable for those needing special assistance.

“Only 87 per cent of Adelaide’s buses are accessible, meaning that often people using mobility aids, wheelchairs, or prams struggle to access public transport, especially during peak hours,” he said.

Mr Wilson cited the new east end tram extension as another example of poor government planning.

“The east end tram extension that is about open in the CBD is unable to turn right, meaning mobility aid users are forced to get off the tram and re-board two blocks causing them significant inconvenience,” he said.

Downplayed by the State Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Transport David Pisoni was scathing of the government’s decision not to incorporate a right-hand turn into the North Terrace extension.

“The right-hand turn was abandoned because it didn’t suit Labor’s political imperative to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the extension to the old RAH site before the March state election,” he said in a press release.

Critical of the Federal Government’s lack of funding for the proposed project in last year’s budget, the council has been a strong advocate for a tram route along The Parade.

The Mayor of the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, Robert Bria, is pleased the tram extension plan is back on the public arena.

“I know that many traders and property owners view the proposed tram extension as an important infrastructure project for the precinct,” Mayor Bria said in a council press release.

Regardless of any political decisions made concerning a light rail link extension, Mr Wilson said any elected government must consider the needs of disadvantaged and disabled people.

“It is important that all individuals have frequent and easy access to public services including transport,” he said.

 

Image Source: Ben Wilson, Facebook

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