The Victorian Auditor General has found that the Department of Transport and Yarra Trams are at risk of breaching disability legislation due to the lack of accessibility on Melbourne’s tram network.
In an audit of accessibility on the tram network, the Auditor General found that only 15 per cent of services were accessible, combining a level-access stop with a low floor tram.
While most routes have some level-access stops, with route 96 being the most accessible, a lack of low-floor trams on many routes mean that services on these routes are not accessible at all.
Under the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport Act (DSAPT), all stops must be accessible by December 31, 2022, and all trams must be disability compliant by 2032. This would require that 68 stops per month to be upgraded and 28-30 trams be built and delivered each year, nearly double the current capacity of E-class manufacture, which is 16 trams a year.
A Victorian Department of Transport spokesperson said that a Tram Spot Rollout Strategy was being worked on to address this gap and would be completed by mid-2021.
“We’re always working to improve accessibility on Melbourne’s tram network – and we’ve already started to deliver some of the key recommendations from the Auditor-General’s Accessibility of Tram Services report,” the spokesperson said.
“We are investing in new low-floor trams, building accessibility into the design of our Next Gen Trams and are delivering more level tram stops, as well as rolling out accessibility features in our PTV app and assistant animal relief – but we know there is more work to do.”
The Auditor General recommended that renewal work that is part of the current tram franchise agreement should be done concurrently with disability upgrades to maximise savings and minimise disruption.
Another issue identified by the Auditor General in meeting accessibility requirements was the lack or inconsistency of data on the network. Although data is collected on accessibility, not all requirements under the DSAPT are included, meaning that specific features that make a stop inaccessible cannot be shown. For trams, the Department of Transport and Yarra Trams have not reviewed tram compliance with DSAPT requirements.
The Department of Transport either partially accepted, accepted in principle or accepted the recommendations of the report.
“We’ll continue working closely with our operators, unions and disability groups to ensure we deliver an equitable experience for all Victorians who use our public transport network,” said the Department of Transport spokesperson.