Lack of disabled-friendly public transport systems in India cause for concern
In India, public transport is still inaccessible for people with disabilities. In spite of laws being introduced, nothing substantial has been done till date. Disability rights activists from across India point out the injustice.
The public transport system in India still largely remains inaccessible for people with disabilities. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 and the Accessible India campaign launched by the Modi government highlights on accessible public places and transport systems. But till date, nothing has been implemented. There are no wheelchair facilities in trains or buses. A visually impaired person is still unable to board an auto or bus due to lack of accessible services like Braille signage for them. Travelling to places still remains a struggle for people with disabilities in the country.
Why we need accessible public transport in India
There are over 80 billion disabled people in India. That constitutes over 6% of the total population. That is precisely the reason why public places must be made accessible. Lack of awareness about disabilities makes things worse in society. Moreover, staffs that work in public transport systems are not aware of how to handle people with disabilities. This lack of sensitization is yet another road block to progress.
Unni Maxx is a wheelchair user and disability rights activist. He says that the government has been inefficient in implanting rights of disabled people across the country.
In most countries abroad, public transport systems are mandatorily made disabled friendly unlike in India. Here, we have to start from scratch to make a bus or train accessible and even public places. Except for metro services in most cities, no other public transport systems are even today accessible. Staffs have been sensitized many times. But that has not given any benefits. We need a big revolution in order to make our public transport systems more accessible. We are now forced to protest for our rights. – Unni Maxx, Disability rights activist
The many hindrances to accessible transport
Disabled people need affordable, safe and reliable transport systems. According to members from the disabled community, that is what the government must aim to do. Accessibility can be a key parameter in ensuring economic success of the nation. Making transport systems accessible will definitely be of much help.
Most of the times, officials believe that construction of ramps for buses and trains or Braille signage’s can be expensive. Also, since the number of disabled people use this are lesser it might lead to low returns too. But studies have proved that accessibility features account for less than one percent of the total cost for a project. This includes from its planning stage. Introduction of these facilities will make transport faster, easier and hassle free for disabled people. This is yet another way to creating an inclusive society as well.
Officials must introduce buses for wheelchair users at least once every week. Unfortunately, whatever facilities were there have also been taken away. Now, we are forced to rely on others to travel. Otherwise, we have to spend thousands of rupees on cabs which is not economical for many people”, says Sindhu Sudevan, a wheelchair user from Trivandrum