Western Australians with disabilities are making significant progress in the push for improved access to public transport.
Disability Services Minister Eric Ripper said today the views of the disabilities field were receiving greater recognition in Western Australia than in any other part of the nation.
"Much is being achieved through the creation of a specific Disability Services portfolio and the formation of the Bureau for Disability Services," Mr Ripper said.
"A lot has been done, but there is more left to do, to ensure that Western Australians with disabilities have the same access to transport as the general community."
A specific group - an access committee from the disability services organisation ACROD - working with the Bureau, had already successfully pressed for a range of specific features in public transport.
· ramps for wheelchair access to trains;
· lowered buttons on trains for people with disabilities to open doors.
The Minister commended Transport Minister Pam Beggs and the Lotteries Commission for supporting a $50,000 joint Government-community study of the transport needs of Western Australians with disabilities.
Representatives from ACROD, the Bureau for Disability Services, the Department of Transport, Transperth and people with disabilities, would oversee the study.
"It will focus attention on areas where more work needs to be done to improve access to transport and ACROD will have a key role in driving the project.
"Standards set by ACROD have already been incorporated in the $275 million northern suburbs railway, which is now nearing completion," Mr Ripper said.
Transport access initiatives already achieved included:
· textured walkways at railway stations and the Perth Busport for people with vision impairment;
· special parking bays for people with disabilities at train stations;
· lowered public phones at metropolitan stations for access by people in wheelchairs;
· voice messages on trains, highlighting stations for people who were print-handicapped;
· an increase in the number of multi-purpose taxis which carried people with disabilities seated in wheelchairs.
Mr Ripper said that under the Social Advantage package, the State Government had increased to $1 million the amount allocated specifically to the transport needs of people with disabilities.
The funding was for:
· an expanded taxi voucher system, particularly for people with disabilities travelling to education, employment or training;
· the broadening of the Attendant Travel Scheme to enable attendants of all people with profound disabilities to travel at discounted rates.