For the disabled and vision impaired, catching public transport is challenging enough.
What makes it harder is a lack of accessibility buses, a three hour wait between them and an ignorant community attitude that is causing growing frustrations.
A discussion was held by the Penrith Disabilities Resource Centre (PDRC) with Busways and the State Government last week to seek answers to these ongoing issues.
Craig Millard, Transport for NSW’s Bus Contract Manager, said the main frustration raised at the meeting was the community’s attitude and how to change it.
“We are dealing with matters outside our control, whether they are ignorant people or people not appreciative of the attention that we need to give those with a disability,” he said.
“We can put everything in, spend a lot of money and keep buying new buses, but if people keep sitting in disabled areas and parking at bus stops then it becomes difficult.”
Mr Millard said they are working on adding more accessible buses to the 4900 buses that service Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
“In Sydney, about 87 per cent of buses are wheelchair accessible, so it’s on the right track,” he said.
“By 2022, every bus in Sydney needs to be wheelchair accessible, and by 2017, 80 per cent of bus timetables will be a disability bus.
“They’re progressing to that, but you need a lot of funding to make it happen tomorrow.”
There are a lot of opportunities for the future, including installing visual information and sound announcements on buses.
“It’s technically a little bit harder to do that. With a train it’s simple, but with a bus moving around you’re relying on a GPS knowing where the bus is,” he said.
Denise Roberts, coordinator at the PDRC said the meeting was not to cause conflict, but to address issues and give information on people’s queries.
“People were here to seek solutions not crucify,” she said.
Ms Roberts said these concerns were not being swept under the carpet, and were quite confidently addressed at the meeting.
“Busways said that they are increasing bus numbers and they will all be accessible,” she said.
“There were issues with driver training and awareness, but Busways informed us that drivers are trained, but there may be one who is doing the wrong thing.”
Those with disabilities in the local area are hoping that the meeting brings a resolution to some of their issues.