|AdelaideMetro rail car|
|International symbol for disability|
I could go on and on because I am so passionate about this issue (and it affects me and my family personally) and I am also very angry about the current situation because there was no public consultation whatsoever at the design stage of the extension project.
My frustration has led to an online petition at the recommendation of one of South Australia's parliamentarians.* I have commenced a paper petition too for people who are not online and who prefer to have a paper document.
The link to the online petition on Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/sa-minister-for-transport-save-tonsley-station-save-our-access-to-public-transport.
You can also do a Change.org search for "Save Tonsley Station".
I have also set up an email address specifically for correspondence about this issue: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The petition site has a section to 'start a conversation' where you can share your comments and read people's reasons for signing. It is interesting to read the experiences of others who are backing up this cause.
I started using the hashtag #savetonsleystation on Twitter. It is fascinating that I have been using this hashtag for a few weeks now when responding to posts by the State Government and those responses seem to have disappeared, leaving only my own tweets surviving.
There are many details on the petition site, including links and references to important documents and contacts. If you are not in Australia and would like to sign, it would be good to add a reason for your signature; e.g., we need equity for people with disabilities and vulnerable communities; we need accessible public transport for all; removing access to rail transport is retrograde, etc.
I want our politicians to know that human rights and equity for people with disabilities are vote-changers. Proof of that is that South Australia had an entire party devoted to disability issues and their representative got voted into our State Parliament.
It is so crazy to think that this rail line is being developed to serve the "Tonsley Innovation Precinct" but there is nothing innovative about taking away people's access to the wider community! It appears to me to be a rail project to serve the rich whilst ignoring the poor locals for whom the Tonsley station is vital.
The people in the local neighbourhood will have a railway line running straight through their suburb which will be useless to them if they cannot get to a station.
If the people who commissioned the design work had done their homework, they would have realised that my suburb has a high level of public housing, low income households, and a greater than average concentration of people with disabilities, many of whom are wheelchair users who rely on the public transport train as their only affordable mode of independent travel.
What about the bus?
The bus is not an option for me. Even though Adelaide Metro has many busses designed to be 'wheelchair accessible', not all wheelchairs fit, and the sudden and often jerky motions of the bus can make it dangerous for passengers in wheelchairs. Compare trains and trams which offer a much smoother, predictable ride. I totally rely on the train to go to the football and get around my city to appointments etc. My children use the train to get to school, university and their jobs.
Catch a taxi?
Adelaide has Access Taxis to provide transport for wheelchair users but there are not enough of them. If you want to travel anywhere around school drop-off and pick-up time, good luck, as most of the taxis are pre-booked. In my past experience, Access Taxis have been notorious for not turning up on time, if at all.
The government has taken steps to create equity for people with disabilities by subsidising taxi travel with a voucher scheme, but even with vouchers, taxi fares are expensive and prohibitive. The costs limit a person's travel. Surely a cheap train ticket purchased by a wheelchair user is saving the government money on expensive vouchers. It seems a false economy to remove access to the train where access already exists.
I also don't like the vulnerable one-to-one position Access Taxis put me in as a passenger with a disability in a private vehicle. Despite cameras etc. there is nothing to stop a devious driver from abusing a passenger.
There have been dreadful cases in my state of children being systematically abused by their school bus driver over a period of time and he got away with a lot of it for a long time because the children had disabilities and were non-verbal or didn't have the vocabulary to tell anyone what happened to them. That did not occur in an Access Taxi but it highlights the vulnerability a disability can cause. It will always remain in the back of my mind when travelling.
Many single travellers feel a similar vulnerability in regular taxis. On public transport, it is totally public, so one is less vulnerable to abuse when there are many other people around, or I would like to think so.
Trains for social inclusion
The other benefit of public transport is that it supports a human need to have a sense of belonging; e.g., one of the things I enjoyed the most about going to work was that sense of having a place in society at large. It is good for self-esteem.
Coincidentally, the day after I began my petition, the ABC Radio News national current affairs program "AM" had a three-minute segment about the difficulties wheelchair users are having with public transport in Brisbane and why equitable access is important: http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/concern-public-transport-overlooked-in-queensland-election/9183036
The campaign for clarity and communication continues
I have been trying to get some clarity about the whole issue since August 2016 and I am disgusted by the lack of communication from the State Government. This has become URGENT now because the work is scheduled to begin in early 2018 and the local community and important stakeholders haven't even been notified.
I feel it is important to raise as much awareness and collect as many signatures and support as possible before people go away for the holiday season.
It is a common tactic for political entities to do unpopular things during the holiday season, hoping that people will be preoccupied and not notice, knowing that many media outlets are also on holidays. Evidence of this on a smaller scale are the 'media releases' about unpopular decisions being published very late on a Friday afternoon... and the political classes wonder why they are losing respect and why the general public are disengaging from the political system!
Nevertheless it is the only system I have and I have made every effort to engage in my political system. While my rights to free speech have not been stifled, I am going to speak up as loudly as possible and if one political channel is going to be obstructive and evasive, then I will just find another channel, like this petition.
"If you think you are too small to make a difference,
try sleeping in a room with one tiny mosquito."
try sleeping in a room with one tiny mosquito."
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
*Kelly Vincent MLC of the Dignity party, formerly known as 'Dignity for the Disabled' or 'D4D'.
Change.org petition, "Save Tonsley Station! Save our access to public transport!", 22 November 2017: https://www.change.org/p/sa-minister-for-transport-save-tonsley-station-save-our-access-to-public-transport
Contact details for local parliamentarians and links to relevant documents can be found at the end of the petition's description. Comments and discussion are welcome on the petition web site.Email: email@example.com
Haxton, Nance, "Concern public transport overlooked in Queensland election", audio [3'02"], 23 November 2017, broadcast 8:20 a.m., ABC Radio News and Current Affairs, Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/concern-public-transport-overlooked-in-queensland-election/9183036
Tonsley Innovation Precinct: https://tonsley.com.au/
Vincent, Kelly, MLC, Dignity Party: https://kellyvincentmlc.com/
Related Posts on Lupey Loops
"Battling Bureaucracy", 3 November 2017: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2017/11/battling-bureaucracy.html
"Training the Transport Department", 10 April 2015: http://lupeyloops.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/access-all-areas-training-transport.html