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New foldable ramp at Chennai buses get mixed response

June 17, 2019

The Metropolitan Transport Corporation of Chennai is gearing up to introduce foldable wheelchair ramp in one of the buses which has been getting mixed review from disability rights activists.

The Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) of Chennai is set to introduce foldable wheelchair ramps, on the lines of a hydraulic lift, in their buses. These are meant to help people with disabilities get on board and off with ease.

Disability rights activists have given a thumbs up to the idea but point out that many other things need to be done as well.

Over the past many months, there has been a rising demand for ramps inside buses that ply within city limits. The Madras High Court had also criticised state officials for not providing accessibility in public transport for disabled people. A team of officials from the MTC inspected the bus last week to review changes that can be introduced.A few months back, the MTC in Karnataka had worked with private companies to make bus stations in Bengaluru accessible and disabled-friendly. Taking a cue from that, Chennai officials planned something on the same lines.

Smitha Sadasivan, a member of the Disability Rights Alliance (DRA) says there need to be some safety measures in place.

These hydraulic lifts do not represent universal access, meaning not all people with disabilities can use this. Crutch users and other people with invisible disabilities must have access to this facility. They must have something to hold on when the lift goes up and down. More accessible buses must be introduced to all routes instead of just one which is purely for namesake. A disabled person will not be travelling in one route all the time. - Smita Sadadivan, Member, Disability Right Alliance

Along with this, there should be signboards for deaf people and tactile cues for people with visual impairments as well, she points out.

There are other facilities that need to be incorporated so disabled passengers can travel comfortably inside the bus without being affected by others in the bus. The crew must also be able to operate the ramps properly so they don't become rusty in due course of time.

"We urge the state government to make this bus facility a reality at the earliest. It cannot merely be cited as an example without being rightly implemented", says TMN Deepak, Founder, December 3 Movement. . "This facility that has not yet been introduced cannot rejoice in the media light as an unaccomplished initiative of the state government.

Undoubtedly, this new move by the MTC is welcome. But this has to be backed by implementation and proper maintenance. Above all, authorities must be receptive to making changes or adding to the existing facilities going ahead depending on the feedback.

ALSO READ: Demand grows for free Metro travel for people with disabilities in Delhi

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