A wide gap between platform and vehicle, small print on signage, stair-only access to platforms, hard to differentiate colours; the public transport sector still has a long way to go to improve its accessibility.
Accessibility is crucial for public transport, and public transport is crucial for sustainable cities. But before we talk about how to be more accessible, we need to define accessibility.
An accessible transport system is one that everybody can use, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. But does this include accessible digital interfaces? Multilingual ticketing? Or is it only physical?
Today, 15% of the world population are persons with disabilities; an estimated one billion persons with disabilities will be living in towns and cities by 2050. Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments.
But not only that! When it comes to mobility, we will all be facing challenges at one point in our lifetime; whether we have recently been blessed with a new-born baby, whether we are facing a long journey home from a trip with two very heavy suitcases, had an unfortunate accident and found ourselves with a leg cast, or are feeling the impacts of old age on our ability to move around.
A lack of accessible mobility systems denies opportunities for those with disabilities. You can’t get to school or university, you have limited access to employment, you have a hard time reaching health care services, and may even struggle simply buying food at the supermarket.
In general, you engage less in public life. In most developing countries, 9 out of 10 children with disabilities do not go to school and 80% of persons with disabilities of working age that are willing to work, remain unemployed*.