COTA Victoria volunteers recently participated in a Victorian Government consultation to develop a new Transport Accessibility Strategy that will improve accessibility for everyone across the transport network.
Our volunteers were asked to think about what makes a good transport experience, such as having somewhere to sit, or having access to fresh air. Volunteers were also asked about what parts of the transport network are important to them, such as walkways, car parks, signage, lighting and doorways.
The participants’ input highlighted just how much the pandemic has added to transport hesitancy and affected people’s sense of safety – which was already a concern for some travellers. But the importance of accessibility to transport was also emphasised, given some older people also live with disability and need to make short journeys between their car or home and public transport.
Other issues raised included lighting, access to public toilets, and the clarity of broadcast messages, signage and directions. The inconsistency of travel experiences was also a theme. One person described how, despite travelling to work via the same route and method for many years, the degree of ease or difficulty could vary from day to day without warning, causing inconvenience and stress.
‘The platforms and trains across Victoria are at variable heights so you never know how big of a step it’ll be to get out of a train. I’m sure if you’re 18 you can leap across but it’s not the same when you’re 70,’ said one participant.
The Department of Transport appreciated hearing about older people’s experiences and said the information would be fed into the strategy’s development. The aim of the strategy is to identify the most useful ways to improve transport experiences for people with disability, as well as working towards compliance with the Commonwealth’s Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport. Those conversations have been broadened to include older people.
The Department of Transport will release a draft Strategy for comment in mid-2022 and complete the strategy by late 2022. For more information visit the Transport Accessibility Strategy webpage or email Accessibility.Strategy@transport.vic.gov.au