Adjournment: Accessible public transport
My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Public Transport, and my ask is that he expedites the accessibility upgrades to Melbourne’s tram network. I recently met with Martin from the Disability Resources Centre, who has been tirelessly advocating for accessibility upgrades for over two decades. We attempted to board a tram on the Lygon Street route, where the numbers 1 and 8 trams take passengers to and from Brunswick and the city. We were unable to board a single tram. Not a single stop along the Lygon Street part of the route is accessible. The stops are narrow and difficult to navigate with a pram or a wheelchair, and while some low-floor trams run along the route, without level access stops these trams are all but useless. An accessible transport network is not just a transport infrastructure issue; it affects people with disabilities, with injuries and with mobility issues and the elderly and those with children in prams. It locks people out from fully participating in society, leaving them reliant on expensive and polluting forms of private transport, like taxis.
We are rapidly approaching the December 2022 deadline for accessibility upgrades to Melbourne’s tram network, but by the end of this year the federal transport standards require all of the country’s public transport infrastructure to be fully accessible, with the exception of the trains and trams, which have been given another 10 years. In Victoria we are nowhere near meeting this deadline. As the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office found in its 2020 audit of the accessible tram network, in 2018–19 just 27 per cent of tram stops were level access, only 38 per cent of the tram fleet was low floor and just 15 per cent of tram services delivered a fully accessible journey with a low-floor tram at a level-access stop. Since then progress has inched along at a snail’s pace. Not only will we not meet the December 2022 deadline for accessible infrastructure, but we are not on track to meet the December 2032 tram compliance requirement. In fact at the current rate of construction our network will not be accessible to everyone until 2066.
We must do better. We need a rapid increase in upgrades across the entire network so that our tram network is fully accessible to everyone. I ask the minister to expedite the accessibility upgrades to Melbourne’s tram network so that everyone is able to take a tram to where they need to go.