The Accessible Journey

The report was released on 26 October 2005. The decision to hold an Inquiry was prompted by the experiences of disabled people who came to the Commission seeking enforcement of their right not to be discriminated against in the provision of public transport.

Report

This report is available in a range of formats. To read the report, please click on a link below:

Recommendations

The recommendations are divided into two parts:

  • Part I: Those that require changes to current legislation, regulations, policies, procedures or funding arrangements.
  • Part II: Changes that can be achieved within the current institutional arrangements with little additional expenditure.

Read the Commission’s Recommendations.

Legislation and Policy developments

The Human Rights Commission has been monitoring legislation and policy developments that will have implications for accessible public transport and making the ‘accessible journey’ a reality.

Some of the key developments included:

  • Requirements for urban buses in New Zealand
  • New Zealand Transport Strategy 2008
  • Public Transport Management Act 2008
  • Braille signs in taxis
  • Training requirements for Passenger (P) endorsed licences.

Requirements for Urban Buses in New Zealand

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has released new vehicle quality standards to be used by regional authorities when letting new contracts for urban scheduled bus services. The requirements describe the minimum accessibility standards and cover the technical requirements for the priority seating area, doors, aisle width, handrails, grab rails, lighting, signals, external destination displays, internal information and ramps. The guidelines are available here.

New Zealand Transport Strategy 2008

The strategy sets the direction for transport to 2040. It establishes the vision and objectives for transport, sets targets and outlines the key challenges for transport in the coming years. With regards to accessible public land transport the strategy states that “the government is committed to the concept of a fully accessible journey, but recognises that there are issues associated with achieving this”. The Ministry of Transport was tasked with developing an implementation plan by July 2009 in response to the recommendations made in the Accessible Journey and set a specific accessibility target for inclusion in the 2010 strategy update. The Strategy is available here.

Public Transport Management Act 2008

The Act enables regional councils to impose controls requiring commercial public transport operators to met specified quality and performance standards, including accessibility standards. The Act came into force on I January 2009. Regional Public Transport Plans must take into account the needs of the transport disadvantaged, which includes disabled people. Groups that represent the transport disadvantaged must be consulted in the preparation of the plan. A fact sheet about the Act.

Braille Signs in Taxis

From 1 October 2008 all taxis must display signs in Braille, inside the front door, indicating the taxi company, the cab’s unique fleet number and the company’s contact phone number for complaints. This was enacted as part of Land Transport Rule 81001.

Training requirements for Passenger (P) endorsed licences

All those who wish to drive a bus on a commercial service or a taxi must obtain a Passenger (P) endorsed licence. From 1 February 2009 all new applicants for this licence must complete the passengers with special needs awareness training unit standard. Approved training kits are available for approved course providers for this purpose.

Hamilton City Accessible Journey Trial

The Hamilton City Accessible Journey Trial: An Evaluation reports on a trial undertaken in 2008 to assess the effectiveness of modifications made to two medium buses and five on-route bus stops serving inner city Hamilton. The trial was jointly sponsored by Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council, New Zealand Transport Agency, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, CCS Disability Action and the Human Rights Commission. The evaluation concluded that the modifications improved access for all users and increased the overall use and confidence in passenger use and confidence in passenger use of public land transport. The report makes a number of recommendations related to bus stop design, seating options for wheelchair users, kerb and tactile treatment preferences and the use of real-time information and next-stop announcements.

Background information

The Human Rights Commission is an independent Crown entity whose primary functions are set out in the Human Rights Act 1993 as:

(a) to advocate and promote respect for, and an understanding and appreciation of, human rights in New Zealand society; and
(b) to encourage the maintenance and development of harmonious relations between individuals and among the diverse groups in New Zealand society.

Since 1994 discrimination against people with disabilities has been unlawful in a number of areas including access by the public to places, vehicles and facilities and in the provision of goods and services.

Many people with disabilities rely on public land transport as their only means of transport. The lack of an accessible public land transport system is often a significant barrier to full participation in employment, education, recreation, community activities and other activities that the non-disabled community take for granted.

The Commission has received a significant number of complaints, inquiries and representations that suggest some elements of the public transport system may not be accessible to people with disabilities. The Commission has been able to resolve some of these issues using the disputes resolution processes contained in the Human Rights Act 1993. However, many of the issues brought to the Commission require a systemic approach to facilitate nationwide access to public land transport services for people with disabilities.

Many government policy documents recognise inclusion, full participation in society, and the removal of barriers to participation as key policy objectives for people with disabilities. For example, the New Zealand Disability Strategy (NZDS) recognises that in order to contribute to the objective of supporting quality living in the community for disabled people, the government will require all new scheduled public transport to be accessible, encourage the development of accessible routes to connect buildings, public spaces and transport systems and develop nationally consistent access to passenger services where there is no accessible public transport.

In addition to the NZDS other government policy documents that are relevant to the inquiry include:

  • The New Zealand Transport Strategy;
  • The New Zealand Positive Aging Strategy;
  • Pathways to Inclusion: Improving Vocational Services for People with Disabilities;
  • The New Zealand Health Strategy.

The Commission considers that an inquiry will establish the range of issues involved for the various public land transport users and providers; allow all those with an interest to express their views and incorporate best practice from other jurisdictions in any proposed solutions.

The Inquiry has sought input and submissions from throughout the country. In addition the Wellington and Otago regions were used as case studies to explore in greater depth the issues for public land transport users and potential users, the organisational responsibilities and responses to the issues and how particular regional circumstances are identified and responded to. For the purposes of this inquiry, only public land transport is included.

FAQs

Why is the Commission conducting the Inquiry?

Since 1994 discrimination against people with disabilities has been unlawful in a number of areas including access by the public to places, vehicles and facilities and in the provision of goods and services.

The Commission has received a significant number of complaints, inquiries and representations that suggest some elements of the public transport system may not be accessible to people with disabilities. The Commission has been able to resolve some of these issues using the disputes resolution processes contained in the Human Rights Act 1993. However, many of the issues brought to the Commission require a systemic approach to facilitate nationwide access to public land transport services for people with disabilities.

The Commission considers that an inquiry will establish the range of issues involved for the various public land transport users and providers; allow all those with an interest to express their views and incorporate best practice from other jurisdictions in any proposed solutions.

Why does the Inquiry use the Otago and Wellington regions as case studies?

The Inquiry will seek input and submissions from throughout the country. In addition the Wellington and Otago regions will be used as case studies to explore in greater depth the issues for public land transport users and potential users, the organisational responsibilities and responses to the issues and how particular regional circumstances are identified and responded to.

In April 2002 DPA and other disability groups in Dunedin held a transport forum to discuss transport issues for the transport disadvantaged, particularly the disabled and older people. As a result the Transport Working Party (TWP) was formed to further the issues. In October 2002 the TWP invited the Commission to host a transport forum in Dunedin. Reports from that forum led the Commission to explore the possibility of conducting an Inquiry into accessible public transport.

In relation to Wellington, as in other areas, concerns have been expressed about premises, infrastructure, conveyances, service information and the role of Councils in the provision of accessible public land transport. These issues involve the community as a whole, central and local government, and are not simply matters to be dealt with by an individual transport operator or regional council.

The Commission has not formed any views or conclusions on the matters raised in either of these cases. Taken together the two regions provide examples of most of the issues that the Inquiry will have to deal with. In both cases the regions in question will be those areas enclosed by the regional council boundaries.

Under what section of the Human Rights Act is the Inquiry being conducted?

The Inquiry is being conducted under Section 5(2) (h) of the Human Rights Act 1993.

How is disability defined for the purposes of the Inquiry?

For the purposes of this Inquiry people with disabilities have the meaning contained in section 21(1) h of the Human Rights Act 1993. This meaning covers the following:

(i) Physical disability or impairment;
(ii) Physical illness;
(iii) Psychiatric illness;
(iv) Intellectual or psychological disability or impairment;
(v) Any other loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or function;
(vi) Reliance on a guide dog, wheelchair, or other remedial means;
(vii) The presence in the body of organisms capable of causing illness.

When were the hearings held?

Public hearings were held in Dunedin, Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North and Hamilton in September and October 2004.

Who sat on the Inquiry Panel?

The Inquiry Panel was chaired by then-Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan. The other members of the Panel were Human Rights Commissioners Robyn Hunt and Judy McGregor.

When was the final report made public?

The final report was released publicly in September/October 2005. The report is available on this website.

How will the report’s recommendations be implemented?

The report will be presented to Government, local Government and transport providers for implementation. The implementation process will be monitored by the Human Rights Commission.