Access delayed, no schedule for action
Forty per cent of Sydney University students commute to campus through Redfern station. The lack of action to address its inaccessibility for people with disability led to a rally on October 26 organised by the University of Sydney Disabilities Collective and People with Disability Australia (PWDA), whose office is opposite the station.
Due to construction on the Gibbons Street entrance to the station, congestion around the Lawson Street entrance is so great, even mid-afternoon on a Friday, that the rally was asked to relocate to the top of Eveleigh Street.
To get to work at the PWDA office in Lawson Square Andrew Emmerson has to travel through Redfern station, as his train stops at a platform without a lift. At Central he must change trains to come back to Platform 6 to use Redfern’s only lift.
Federal legislation requires all of Australia’s train network to be accessible by 2022. The NSW government is behind schedule, with over 45 per cent of Sydney’s train network still inaccessible; it shares the worst access rating with Queensland. Many stations are not wheelchair accessible and do not have ramps or lifts. Lack of audio announcements and tactile paving create barriers for blind and partially sighted people.
In addressing the rally, Robin Eames, the first wheelchair user to be a University of Sydney Disability Officer, said: “Without access to public transport, disabled people can’t be fully included in the community. It is shameful that so much of Sydney’s public transport infrastructure is still inaccessible despite legislative requirements. Public transport is for everyone.”
Since the rally, Sydney Trains has further exacerbated congestion on the station concourse by allowing a Muffin Break franchise booth that partially blocks access to the only lift. On its first day of operation station staff reported that water hoses to the booth burst.