Public transport services for persons with disabilities

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Provision of convenient transport services for persons with disabilities.

Hong Kong covers a small area of less than 1,100 square kilometres. It has one of the world's best public transport systems comprising railways, regular and light buses, taxis and ferries. The region serves more than 11 million commuters daily, with no direct government subsidies.

During the last decade, the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region promoted accessibility by improving the transport system and by encouraging transport operators to provide facilities for citizens with disabilities. The Transport Department promotes access to transportation through the provision of accessible public transport services and on-street facilities. Public transport and railway operators are encouraged to make their vehicles and services accessible as far as is practicable.

Objectives :
- to provide a barrier-free public transport service to persons with disabilities;
- to enhance their mobility and their integration with the community.

Development :
The Transport Department set up a Working Group on Access to Public Transport for persons with disabilities. The working group was created to facilitate communication among representatives of persons with disabilities, public transport operators, and relevant government departments. The working group has provided a useful forum for the exchange of views and the discussion of issues of common concern. It also takes the lead in tackling problems common to all public transport operators, such as establishing common standards and guidelines on the provision and modification of facilities.

The working group continues to identify new initiatives on a regular basis and monitors implementation of approved programs. The Transport Department has developed and formulated a Transport Planning and Design Manual, in consultation with representatives of persons with disabilities, to provide general guidelines on the design and provision of facilities and to promote awareness of such factors. The manual has been widely adopted by various planners and providers of services for persons with disabilities.

Results :
As a consequence of the implemented measures, Hong Kong is better able to meet the transport needs of persons with disabilities.
The government provides accessible traffic facilities, such as over 10,000 audible traffic signals, tactile warning strips and dropped kerbs at pedestrian crossings.
The government also funds Rehabus services for those who are unable to use public transport. It is a territory-wide transport network comprising a fleet of about 90 wheelchair - accessible buses. The network offers scheduled and feeder services on fixed routes, plus a dial-a-ride service to enable some 490,000 passengers a year to travel to work, school, etc.
The bus operators in Hong Kong have introduced about 2,000 wheelchair-accessible buses in Hong Kong, or about 30% of all buses. These buses are equipped with a fixed ramp and wheelchair parking space inside the compartment.

Taxis have been adapted for persons with visual impairment. Over 95% of all taxis have a Braille and tactile vehicle registration-number plate inside the vehicle compartment.  Also, about 7,500 newly registered taxis in Hong Kong have been installed with talking meters that announce taxi service and taxi fare messages in Cantonese, Putonghua and English.

Resources needed :
The Transport Department is in charge of monitoring the improvements to public transport services. It is also responsible for the design and consultation process:
- the Highway Department is responsible for construction projects;
- the Electrical and Mechanical Service Departments are responsible for the installation of audible tactile signals.

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region provides incentives to the private sector, in the form of a profitable operating environment, guidelines and design
Major transport companies are responsible for procurement of wheelchair accessible buses and for installation and retrofitting of disabled facilities in railway stations, train and bus compartments.

Partners :
The Transport Department of the Hong Kong SAR government is the agency that oversees and implements accessible transportation.
Organizations representing persons with disabilities are part of the consultation process and provide input regarding facilities requirements.

Key elements :
- policy, legislation and institutional arrangements to support implementation of accessible public transportation;
- effective coordination between government departments, major transport operators, and organizations for persons with disabilities.

Transport Department
40/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Mrs. Cecilia LAI
Phone: +852-2829-5309
Fax: +852-2824-2176