CPSA’s response – Draft Older Persons Transport and Mobility Plan 2018–2022

Publication published 24 January 2019

CPSA’s response – Draft Older Persons Transport and Mobility Plan 2018–2022

Transport Access Program

Under the Transport Access Program (TAP) the NSW Government plans to upgrade all rail stations, including through investment in lifts, station upgrades, park and ride facilities and related infrastructure to improve the accessibility of NSW public transport system. However, there is a marked lack of transparency regarding both the priority criteria for stations that will be upgraded and the timeline for stations.
Whilst the timeline set by the Australian Government for states and territories for train station accessibility is 100 per cent by 2022, it is unclear if NSW is aiming for this date. According to the Australian Government timeline, by 2012 55 per cent of stations Australia-wide were supposed to be compliant with standards such as lifts, stairs, access paths and ramps. However, a recent report by the ABC showed that in 2018, only 54 per cent of stations in NSW were independently accessible. According to the timeline, stations should have been 90 per cent accessible.

The NSW Government needs to increase transparency of transport upgrades and commit to timelines and measurable goals. As far as CPSA is aware, the TAP has no end date for 100 per cent accessible stations. CPSA recommends that a project timeframe for the roll out is developed and made public, within the constraints of a time frame, of which CPSA recommends by 2022.

There is also no transparent, public access to the priority criteria for station upgrades. Unanderra station is an example of a station where transparency is desperately needed. Unanderra has been waiting for an upgrade for years and has been prioritised behind stations with lower patronage. CPSA understands that in June 2009 Unanderra station was allocated $11.4 million for renovations, including plans to increase accessibility. While a small portion of this money was spent on upgrading waiting areas, the second stage of the renovation that of the installation of lifts, was stalled. Currently, commuters face a 72-step challenge before they can even board the train. Our members tell us it has negative impacts as it is a hugely busy station with many older people living in the area. There is a lack of transparency about why Unanderra station has been prioritised behind other stations of lower patronage, and around what the planned timeframe is for the upgrade to be recommenced.

Recommendation 1:

That the NSW Government commit to making all train stations accessible to those with a disability and/or mobility issues by 2022.

Recommendation 2:

That the NSW Government publicly release the priority criteria for train stations in NSW.

Recommendation 3:

That the NSW Government publicly released a timeline for completion of the Transport Access Program

Access to information about transport services

Public transport users need to be able to access information about transport services in order to plan their journeys. The amount of information available to public transport users who are not online is declining following the removal of paper timetables from train platforms and the discontinuation of regional bus guides. Access to ‘real-time’ transport information requires a smart phone, the technical skills to use a smart phone and sufficient data to access the internet. There are many older people who would be unable to satisfy all three of these criteria at any given time. For people that experience digital exclusion, due to age or disability, providing non-digital points of contact is vital.

The information phone service provides some information, but this also needs to be available when people are at the station/stop. This has created a barrier limiting those people who are not online from accessing the public transport system. Removal of station staff creates additional barriers which limits people’s ability to access public transport. Support by frontline staff at stations is vital as staff provide help with boarding, information and ticketing. However, there has been a significant drop in station staff. Between 2014-17 there was a drop of 510 station staff across NSW, from 1918 station staff to 1408 in 2017. Put another way, that’s a 27% decrease in station staffing in just three years.

Recommendation 4:

That Transport for NSW re-introduce paper timetables at stations/on platforms, make paper pocket timetables available at stations/on platforms and include more services on the electronic screens.

References

  1. Mark Doman, Nathanael Scott and Ri Liu, 2018, The ‘unconscionable’ state of Australia’s train stations , ABC, 20 August, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-29/the-unconscionable-state-of-australias-train-stations/10147174.
  2. Transport for NSW, 2017, ‘Annual Report’, 2016-2017 edn. NSW Government; Transport for NSW, 2014, ‘Annual Report’, 2013-2014 edn, NSW Government. The 2017-2018 Annual report did not explicitly number the amount of station as previous reports did.

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