Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport, Australia, 2002 (amended 2005)

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The Australian Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport provide practical measures to be taken by transport operators and providers to make public transport more accessible, both for persons with disabilities, as well as the elderly and those travelling with young children.

Section 31 of the australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 provides for the making of standards. The Act gives the Attorney General the power to formulate these standards, while reserving the power to review the standards to Parliament, according to typical arrangements made for delegated legislation. The Attorney General may make Disability Standards to specify rights and responsibilities about equal access and opportunity for persons with disabilities, in more detail and with more certainty than the Act itself provides. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has a function of advising the Attorney General on making such standards.

The Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport and accompanying Guidelines came into effect on 23 October 2002 – 10 years after the Act passed through Parliament. They will be reviewed at five-year intervals.

The Disability Standards detail mandatory performance outcomes covering a range of accessibility issues. Due to the very specific requirements in the Disability Standards, they are the national authority for compliance with anti-discrimination legislation in the areas specified in the Disability Standards.

The compliance timetable ensures that increased accessibility is provided in a way that does not create an undue burden for operators and providers by allowing for incremental compliance with the relevant requirements over 30 years, with milestones at the fifth, tenth, fifteenth, twentieth and thirtieth years. For example, 10 years after the standards commence, operators and providers must ensure full compliance with the relevant requirements in relation to surfaces; handrails and grab rails; gateways; and vending machines, as applicable to conveyances, premises and infrastructure. After 20 years, all buses must be fully compliant with the standards.

Objectives :
- to ensure public transport operators and providers remove discrimination from public transport services;
- to remove discrimination on the basis of disability from public transport services over a 30-year period;
- to ensure that persons with disabilities, their families and caregivers can participate fully in, and enjoy, community life;
- to promote recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle that persons with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the rest of the community.

Description :
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 seeks to eliminate discrimination, “as far as possible,” against persons with disabilities. Public transport is a service covered by this Act. Transport standards ensure that public transport is more accessible for persons with disabilities, the elderly and parents with infants in strollers.

For the first time, the Transport Standards set out formal requirements for accessibility to public transport in Australia. The standards take into account the range of disabilities covered by the Act and apply to a range of public transport conveyances, premises and infrastructure, with some limited exceptions. They provide greater certainty about rights and obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act.

The standards prescribe detailed requirements in relation to accessibility issues such as access paths, manoeuvring areas, ramps and boarding devices, allocated spaces, handrails, doorways, controls, symbols and signs, the payment of fares, the provision of information, belongings, etc. In prescribing how public transport is to be made accessible, the Standards acknowledge certain rights of passengers, operators and providers, as well as impose some responsibilities.

In appropriate cases, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is also able to grant temporary exemptions from the requirements of the standards, taking into account advice from the National Transport Secretariat, to ensure that the system operates in a fair and balanced way. The Disability Standards apply to the operation or provision of public transportation services and facilities to persons with disabilities by public and private sector operators of public transportation.

The Transport Standards set out the requirements for public transport providers that apply to the following modes of transport or ‘conveyances’:
- aircraft;
- buses or coaches;
- ferries;
- taxis;
- trains, trams, light rail, monorails, rack railways; and
- any other rolling stock, vehicle or vessel classified as public transport within its jurisdiction by regulation or administrative action of any Government in Australia.

Resources needed :
The Commonwealth Government estimated the cost of Australia-wide compliance with the disability standards over 20 years was 3.7 billion dollars (Australian), in 1999.

Partners :
The standards were developed following extensive consultation with the transport industry, people with restricted physical ability and government representatives.
The Attorney General funds a Disability Discrimination Act Standards Project established by disability community peak organizations to co-ordinate input by persons with disabilities to standards development processes.

Results :
Public transport is becoming more accessible by the replacement or upgrading of conveyances, premises an infrastructure at the end of their service lives.

Key elements :
- example of persons with disabilities, government and industry groups working together to find practical ways to eliminate discrimination;
- information provided to transport operators to assist them in eliminating, to the extent possible, discrimination from public transport services for persons with disabilities;
- provision of certainty about particular requirements, which need to be complied with in accordance with a specific timetable;
- temporary exemptions granted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission from the requirements of the standards, in appropriate cases, to ensure that the system operates in a fair and balanced way.

The joined document is a copy of the "Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 - as amended - made under subsection 31 (1) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992" This compilation was prepared on 11 May 2005 taking into account amendments up to Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport Amendment 2004 (No. 2). Prepared by the Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing, Attorney-General’s Department, Canberra. Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.

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