Buses for All (Europe) - A Brief Presentation

A briefing outlining the Australian government’s plans to improve transportation accessibility for disabled people. Other briefings from the year 2000 detail the progress and problems of the EU Bus and Coach Directive and a campaign by the action group, Buses for All (Europe), to make buses accessible for all people with disabilities. Internet publication URL: www.independentliving.org/docs1/buses3.htm

Buses for All (Europe) - A Brief Presentation.

Press Release 16 February 2001:
Disabled People to Finally Catch the Bus - Victory for Disabled People on Bus and Coach Directive

Buses for All (Europe)11 Southgate GB - Manchester M41 9FS
buses.for.all@grads.globalnet.co.uk
 

Lewjoreion gia olous - Autobus para todos - L'autobús per tot - L'autobus pour tous - L'autobus per tutti - Bus voor geheel - Busse für alle - Buses for all - Bus para tudo - Bus til alle - Buss för all

Read about the Common Position on EU Buses agreed upon by the
EU Council of Ministers during the week of September 25, 2000 here! (.pdf file).

Briefing, 23 October 2000

More News from Australia

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From Maurice Corcoran, National Co-ordinator of the [Australian] Disability Discrimination Act Standards Project.

"As a further follow up to my earlier message and paper on the Australian experience, I am pleased to report that the Federal Government's cabinet have just approved the proposed Accessible Public Transport Standards and released the Regulatory Impact Statement.

I will attach the government's and our press releases for your information. On another matter, I presented the paper along with a video on accessible transport called 'Access all Areas' at the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) Congress in Melbourne yesterday and it went really well.

There were 520 delegates with the vast majority being international. The feedback was very positive especially from Hans RAT, Secretary General UITP, who moved a motion directly after I presented that I give the same presentation in London at their world congress in 12 months time. I hope that will be possible.

JOINT NEWS RELEASE

MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL SERVICES, THE HON. JOHN ANDERSON, MINISTER FOR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SERVICES, SENATOR THE HON. JOCELYN NEWMAN and ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON. DARYL WILLIAMS, AM, QC, MP

11 October 2000

IMPROVED TRANSPORT SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

On the eve of the Paralympics, people with disabilities will be able to look forward to easier use of transport after Cabinet agreed to establish minimum accessibility standards for a range of modes of transport, including buses, trains, aeroplanes, taxis and ferries, Minister for Transport and Regional Services John Anderson, Minister for Family and Community Services Senator Jocelyn Newman and Attorney-General Daryl Williams said today.

The Disability Standards for Public Transport will require most public and private transport operators to make their services accessible to people with disabilities, meeting accessibility targets progressively over the next 30 years. The standards cover a range of issues, from the height of bus floors to the signs and messaging systems used by transport operators.

The Government will also amend the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to allow the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to grant exemptions from the standards, for example where compliance would cause unjustifiable hardship. The Commission will be required to take into account the advice of the National Transport Secretariat in making exemptions.

The arrangements represent a sensible compromise between the community's obligation to improve accessibility and mobility for all Australians and the reasonable expectation of the transport industry that it should not incur an unfair cost burden as a result of the standards.

People with disabilities face barriers to enjoying activities which many others take for granted. They travel less frequently, are much less likely to be able to drive and often rely on unreliable or expensive modes of transport. Lack of access to accessible transport is one of the biggest barriers for people with disabilities in engaging in social and economic participation.

The revised standards, when implemented, will assist in breaking down the social and economic barriers faced by people with a disability and provide them with greater opportunity to participate in their community.

Transport is critical for maintaining independence and quality of life, both for city dwellers and rural Australians who want to live productively within their communities without being excluded.

The system of exemptions and long lead times for compliance will allow transport operators to plan ahead and factor in costs when fleets are upgraded or associated infrastructure is installed.

The Government has agreed that the draft standards be amended to exclude dedicated school bus services, small aircraft and airports, limousines, hire cars and charter boats, and unresolved technical issues, to vary the requirements in relation to boarding devices and electronic notices, and to extend the implementation timetable for buses, trains and trams.

The standards will be tabled by the Attorney-General in Parliament once amendments have been made to the Disability Discrimination Act. A Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) was prepared and released for consultation during the development of the standards. The RIS identifies the impact of the standards and details the costs and benefits of their implementation. The RIS is available at: http://www.law.gov.au/. The revised standards will be available shortly.

This is a great step forward for Australians living with a disability as well as for families and carers.

MEDIA RELEASE

(For Immediate Release)

People with Disabilities on the Road at Last - Accessible Public Transport Standards to Move Forward The Disability Discrimination Act Standards Project is very pleased to report that at last, the Accessible Public Transport Standards are to move forward into parliament and become law. The Standards will direct how public Transport should become accessible within twenty years and clearly shows how transport operators should comply with the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (1992).

Minister for Transport and Regional Services John Anderson, Minister for Family and Community Services Senator Jocelyn Newman and Attorney-General Daryl Williams have announced today, on the eve of the Paralympics, that people with disabilities will be able to look forward to easier use of transport in Australia after Cabinet agreed to establish minimum accessibility standards for a range of modes of transport, including buses, trains, aeroplanes, taxis and ferries.

'This has been a long time coming and is vital if people with a disability are truly going to be able to fully participate as members of the Australian community rather than be segregated", stated Maurice Corcoran the National Coordinator of the DDA Standards Project. "For far too long people with a disability have been denied access to public transport in Australia and have had as a replacement segregated, purpose-built 'taxi services' that has been both costly and far less reliable than transport which the general public enjoy" he added.

Maurice, himself a quadriplegic went on to state that "The disability sector identified access to public transport as a major problem back in IYDP ('International Year of Disabled Persons' 1981). A commissioned survey with disability consumer organisations at that time identified that 88% of all respondents reported that access to public transport was a major problem as it restricted their participation in education, employment, medical appointments, shopping and recreation.

"When the DDA was introduced back in 1992 and made provision for developing Accessible Transport Standards, we thought we would have them much sooner than now" stated Maurice. "It seems like a very long time since our complaints were first lodged with the Human Right and Equal Opportunity Commission back in 1994 or when we first started work on the Draft Standards back in 1995 but they are here at last and we intend to celebrate long and hard" he went on to say.

The 1998 Australian Bureau of Statistics identified that of the 15.2% or 2,828,000 of Australians with handicaps resulting from a disability, 1,050,700 reported having difficulty using public transport. Over 544,500 stated that the predominant reason being getting in or out of the 'conveyances' due to steps and doors. A further 297,700 reported that they had difficulty using public transport because of access to/onto stops/stations (ABS 1998).

The Disability Standards address all these access issues on buses, trains, trams, taxis, planes, ferries in fact all transport that carries passengers. It also includes the infrastructure that supports transport such as railway and bus stations, airports etc.

The DDA Standards Project is a National Project of the National Caucus of Disability Consumer Organisations. In broad terms the DDA Standards Project is funded to coordinate disability sector input into the development of DDA Standards.

Also available from the DDA Standards Project is a paper on the history and key event that have lead to the development of these Standards. This is quite timely in that the National Coordinator is presenting the paper to the International Transport Conference (UITP) in Melbourne tomorrow.

For more information, please contact Maurice Corcoran on:

Tel: 61 8 82422700 Fax: 61 8 82422711 or Mobile: 0419 855735
E-mail: ddasp@ozemail.com.au
Website: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~ddasp

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Briefing, 23 October 2000

Fully accessible new Routemaster London buses?

The famous red London double decker bus with the open rear platform, often seen in pictures, is called the Routemaster.

The London Buses company seems serious about developing a new low-floor Routemaster. Dave Wetzel, London Buses' chair and Transport for London's vice-chair, says this so-called "Child of Routemaster" will be a new wheelchair-accessible, rear platform double decker, reports John Aldridge in the November 2000 edition of Buses magazine.

Manufacturers are being invited to compete to design this brand new bus. Legal opinion is being asked if there are any possible problems, and the project is being run by Transport for London board member Brian Heiser, who is a wheelchair user.

Another Transport for London board member, Steve Norris, says that while European Union regulations lay down tight criteria for what can be sold to other European Union countries, there is nothing to stop UK bus operators buying and running new buses with rear platforms fitted with doors that could be left open.

( source: Buses magazine, November 2000, page 7, http://www.ianallanpub.co.uk/buses )

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Briefing, 20 September 2000

The vote has been delayed until Monday 25 September 2000.

We have received messages which all indicate that the Common Position on the buses and coaches directive has not yet been adopted. It is expected that it will go as an "A item" (which means some discussion is expected) to the Agriculture Council when the Agriculture Ministers from the 15 EU member states meet on 25 September 2000.

Once adopted, the Common Position document will be sent to the European Parliament, and published in the EU Official Journal, "C" series. It will be available in all language versions. There is then a three-month period for the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament to discuss any problems and reach an agreement. At the end of three months, the draft directive will then finally become a new law.

We will try and give you a web address for these documents as soon as it is available, and an analysis of any remaining problems.

Thanks.

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Briefing, September 6, 2000

GET READY!

The European Council of Ministers' dates for the meetings on the draft Directive on Buses will now be:

Tuesday, September 12, 2000 - COREPER, and

Monday, September 18, 2000 - General Affairs Council.

COREPER is a committee of officials (civil servants) from the 15 Governments in the European Union.
The General Affairs Council is a higher committee of Ministers from each 15 Governments.

There are no public papers for these meetings, but as far as we know the officials are still proposing to allow urban buses NOT to have a ramp fitted if the bus can kneel, especially if there are also raised pavements in the area.

This is not an acceptable policy for us, as it still excludes many wheelchair users. This directive will probably last for a generation, so it must be improved now. Social inclusion must mean everyone.

We will be producing a briefing note for these meetings with technical information to support our case for 100% access for urban buses. This briefing note will also have some lobbying information. Meanwhile, our web page gives a useful summary.

We are particularly concerned because we thought 100% access for urban buses was already agreed in March 2000.

We also know that many of the officials support our objective, and we will be working with as many allies as possible.

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Updated: August 6, 2000

Recent Developments
Campaign Background
What You Can Do
Campaign History

Recent Developments

The next official announcement on the EU Buses and Coaches Directive is expected around September 28, 2000. After that, there will be up to three months allowed for negotiations between the European Parliament, the Europe an Commission and the EU Council of Ministers which represents the Governments of the 15 EU countries. So we might have new legal standards for accessible buses in Europe by the end of 2000, but the campaign still has work to do.

We are sure that the current wording still excludes wheelchair users from some urban buses, and we will continue to campaign hard for full access for everyone. This means a ramp (or lift) on every urban bus, including kneeling buses. We understand that the wording which will be published in September will propose that kneeling buses have no ramps. This is totally unacceptable. A kneeling bus can lower itself at bus stops, to be nearer the pavement. But it still leaves a gap which wheelchair users cannot cross to get on or off the bus. Bad parking also means that the bus cannot always get close to the pavement. Raised pavements and kneeling buses do help some people, but they are not the whole answer. And what is the point of a wheelchair space inside the bus if a wheelchair user cannot get on the bus?

A mechanical ramp costs under euro 300 ($300, £180) - a small price for full access.

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Campaign Background

Buses for All (Europe) is a small group of volunteers who have a strong interest in buses being accessible for all people with disabilities. The group has a technical knowledge of buses, and is concentrating its attention on the work of the European Union. For some years now, the European Union's institutions have been working on a new EU law, called a Directive, on the design rules for manufacturing new buses and coaches. At the moment, each EU country can its own design rules, and this stops the free selling of buses and coaches between one EU country and another.

Buses for All (Europe), along with disability organisations (especially the European Disability Forum) and other allies, have been pressing the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council of Ministers to make full access a compulsory part of the design rules. This campaign has the support of many Members of the European Parliament, and especially its all-party Disability Intergroup. The introduction to the most recent draft of the Directive has nearly accepted that full access must be designed for all new urban buses, though not yet for new rural buses or new coaches.

In campaigning to make buses accessible, the Buses for All (Europe) group is not only interested in the low floor bus. In some hilly areas we know there are problems in using low floor buses. But there are already many accessible buses which use lifts, and there will remain an important place for these buses, especially in rural and hilly areas. In the flatter, urban areas the low floor bus has many advantages - people can get on and off very quickly, and many passengers with pushchairs, shopping trolleys and heavy luggage appreciate the ease of getting on and off.

Many of the new buses also have a cleaner engine, with less sulphur exhaust, and some engines can run on methane gas. They provide a better transport solution in towns by reducing car usage, they are pleasant to use, and respect the right of all people with disabilities to use public transport.

Some companies do not like the draft directive because the proposed rules would not allow the companies to put too many seats inside the bus. Some companies already have accessible buses with tip-up seats in the area where a person using a wheelchair can also travel. Most of the commercial objections to low floor buses are based on the alleged higher cost of low floor buses when compared with traditional inaccessible buses. In Buses for All (Europe) we know that when the rules are agreed, market forces and economies of scale will make some very affordable low floor buses available, and already it is possible to find lower prices in the market. People with disabilities and their organisations know very well that, as long as access remains a "special" feature, companies will try and charge extra for access.

But, as we said above, a mechanical ramp costs under euro 300 ($300, £180) - a small price for full access.

They say it can't be done!

On a long weekend in Barcelona we travelled everywhere with a power chair - by public transport. Not only were many buses accessible, but the attitude of drivers was "no problem" - moving the bus if necessary to line up the ramp. The experience was incredible. The biggest novelty of all was the feeling of not being apart. The lasting effect, though, is having the knowledge and experience that accessible transport can work.

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What can you do?

  1. Write to your Member of the European Parliament (the address is: rue Wiertz, B-1047 Bruxelles/Brussel) asking for their vote for full access to buses when the  rules are debated by them this autumn. Your library can also give you their names.
  2. Write to the managers of your local bus companies and local transport authorities asking what are their plans to buy only accessible buses from now on.
  3. If you find some news on accessible buses, don't assume we have heard it to, and please send us a copy of articles, letters, and so on.
  4. If you have any news from countries outside the EU on accessible buses and coaches, please send it to us so that we can build on the lessons you have learnt.

Also ...

Some journalists are still working from some badly researched stories which said that the new rules would not allow any more double decker buses to be made - this is another one of those "Euro myths".

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Campaign history

For those with an interest in the history of the campaign, below are some links to previous messages and photographs about accessible buses in Europe.

Photographs of Wheelchair Accessible Buses (1997)
More Photographs of Wheelchair Accessible Buses (1998)
More Photographs of Wheelchair Accessible Buses (1998)
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 17 December 1998 - American Airlines
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 13 December 1998 - Dublin
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 11 December 1998 - BT Internet booths
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 10 December 1998 - Women's Rights Committee
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 9 December 1998 - Ireland
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 2 December 1998 - Further Amendments?
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 30 November 1998 - Geneva
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 29 November 1998 - London Buses
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 29 November 1998 - UK Government Position
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 23 October 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 19 October 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 17 October 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 10 October 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 20 September 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 12 September 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 10 September 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 9 September 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 6 September 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 1 September 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 13 August 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 12 August 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 11 August 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 5 August 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 4 August 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 30 July 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 29 July 1998
Buses for All (Europe) Briefing - 28 July 1998
Latest on EU Draft Directive on Buses and Coaches - 19 July 1998
Latest on EU Draft Directive on Buses and Coaches - 1 July 1998
Draft Directive on Buses and Coaches - Explanatory Memorandum
Draft Directive on Buses and Coaches - Published
Directive on the design rules for buses and coaches - Official Press Release
Extract from Hansard, column 837, 3 February 1998, House of Commons, UK

Reprinted courtesy of: Disability Net 2000

E-mail Daniel Cullen at Disability Net 2000: Dan@disabilitynet.co.uk

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