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Public transport excludes disabled

Mel Harrison cannot get the train to Redfern Station because of continuing delays to installation of disabled access reports Robert Burton-Bradley in Central of 22 October 2008.

Disability groups are demanding the State Government provide disabled access at Redfern station, instead of waiting for a planned upgrade as much as two years away.

Redfern is a major transport hub connecting thousands of people a day, yet it remains without a disabled lift or ramp on any of its platforms.

Many nearby stations across the city already have disabled access, said People With Disability CEO Michael Bleasdale, meaning there was no excuse for a station the size of Redfern to remain without.

“It’s really important that Redfern becomes accessible to disabled people, not just to workers and residents but also people who use the hub for changing lines,” he said.

The State Government is delaying any access improvements until the station redevelopment.

“I really think it needs to be fast-tracked. I’m nots sure why it’s dependent on the masterplan for Waterloo and Redfern’s redevelopment.”

The State Government was criticised last week for its track record on station upgrade promises.

Quizzed before a parliamentary budget estimates committee, Transport Minister David Campbell could not give a start date on much-needed access works at Newtown.

Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon, a member of the transport budget estimates committee, asked Mr Campbell why nothing had started when Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt, Member for Marrickville, promised during the 2007 election campaign that Newtown would be the first station to get disability access.

“Sydenham station is not due to have its access upgraded until 2012 and it has already moved to a finalising option,’’ Ms Rhiannon said.

Mel Harrison, who is confined to a wheelchair, travels to Redfern from Bass Hill for work several times a week and says the station desperately needs disabled access.

At the moment, she says, the lack of access is adding to her woes.

“It’s quite an expense, driving, but I don’t have much option when there’s no access.” she told Central.

“It’s a reality of people with a mobility impairment – you have to take transport that’s more expensive.”

Photo: Phil Rogers