ORC transport plan lacking, disabled say

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Little consideration has been given to the public transport access issues faced by disabled people in Otago, Parents of Vision Impaired NZ says.

That was one of the points raised in submissions from about 200 groups and individuals to the Otago Regional Council’s draft regional public transport plan.

Councillors will begin hearing from 40 of those submitters in Dunedin today.

The plan sets out the focus for public transport in the region over the next 10 years.

Parents of Vision Impaired NZ said it was broadly supportive of the proposed plan, but for disabled people, accessibility required more than what was included in the council’s draft plan.

"Access is primarily conceptualised with regards to ease of use and convenience for an abled person.

"Currently little consideration is given to the access issues faced by disabled people."

The group said accessible transport for disabled people meant having room for more than one wheelchair user at a time, public transport schedules that blind, deaf-blind, and low-vision people could easily access on the app, and regular, consistent service routes.

Disabled Persons Assembly kaituitui-community networker Chris Ford said much of the region’s transport network remained inaccessible to disabled people.

"Many of the proposed moves are great, but we would like to see words turned into action and at the earliest possible opportunity."

He suggested that the regional council establish an accessible transport advisory group to provide advice and feedback from a range of impairment-based perspectives.

A proposed policy in the regional council’s draft plan is to "ensure that the public transport network is accessible and safe".

That included working with disability groups to identify specific needs, requirements, and areas of the public transport system that could be improved, the plan said.

Public hearings will be held across Dunedin and Queenstown from today until Thursday.

molly.houseman@odt.co.nz

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