Queensland Assistant Minister for Public Transport Steve Minnikin
Labor Failed To Improve Station Access
Victor P Taffa
The Newman Government is again left cleaning up a Labor mess after a review of railway stations showed Queensland Rail would not meet the Federal 2012 disability access targets.
Assistant Minister for Public Transport Steve Minnikin said the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) has had a clear target of 55 % compliance by December 31 and the review showed Queensland Rail would fall well short.
“Many disabled passengers rely on public transport but because Labor failed to properly plan, only 23 out of the 144 stations will meet the standards.” Mr. Minnikin said.
“We have been left in a position where there is not enough time or money to fully meet the DDA compliance legislation despite the previous government spending more than $400 million on new and upgraded stations.”
“In 2009 more than $15.76 Million was spent constructing Beerburrum station with all the bells and whistles but only has about 60 passengers during the three-hour peak period.”
“This compared with a station like Newmarket that has almost 850 passengers during the peak but absolutely no wheelchair access to the platform.” Mr. Minnikin said.
“This is another example of Labor waste, gold plating and an irresponsible use of taxpayer money that should have gone to ensuring our city network was accessible for the disability standards.”
The review showed it would cost about $1.5 Billion to make the entire city network DDA compliant.
The Newman Government has requested a four-year action plan be developed and released for public consultation in early 2013 detailing accessibility priorities.
“Our focus initially will be on the four areas of the network where there are three or more non-accessible stations in a row.” Mr. Minnikin said.
“We have also asked Queensland Rail to explore all options to improve access for customers who use wheelchairs, mobility scooters, have a sensory disability, older adults, and customers with young children.”
Queensland Rail work closely with an Accessibility Reference Group which functions as a consultation and advisory body on the requirements of customers with disabilities whether in relation to infrastructure or rollingstock.
Queensland Rail also holds regular Rail Safety Orientation Days for people with disabilities and carers to familiarise themselves with trains and stations and accessibility on the network.