Barriers in a public transport journey

A young woman is ready to alight a bus in Auckland. When people talk about transport they first think of cars, buses and trains. But the key component linking all of these are footpaths. They are essential for people using mobility devices and people with vision impairment. But having a footpath is only one of the barriers in a public transport journey for people with disability. 

Hazard-free footpaths without obstacles are essential for people with mobility devices and people with vision impairment. This was one finding in a study of 32 participants with either reduced mobility or vision impairment. The whole journey study compared the barriers for different disability types.

The participants in the study were independent users of public transport. Their trips were mainly for work or education. The barriers fell into two categories: built environment and the public transport service.

There were several problems with buses including driver attitudes making things worse. Trains were not so problematic as stations were generally accessible. 

The research paper provides more information about the barriers, and the experiences of the participants. The top three issues were bus driver attitudes, poor presentation of information, and footpath obstructions. 

The title of the paper is, Investigating the barriers in a typical journey by public transport users with disabilities.  It was published in the Journal of Transport & Health.

From the abstract:

The study investigated the barriers in a typical journey chain and provides the similarities and differences in the key barriers perceived by people with physical and visual impairments.

Participants volunteered from cities in New Zealand. A semi-structured interview was conducted with a sample of people with disabilities. Bus driver’s attitude and unawareness of disabled users’ needs was a common concern for both groups.

The main barriers for physically impaired users were terminals and stops, services, and quality of footpaths. The main barriers for visually impaired users were poor presentation of information, and obstructions on footpaths.

The study provides recommendations for policy makers. Future research studies are encouraged to adopt the accessible journey chain when investigating barriers to riding public transport.

Front cover of the report. shows people boarding a tramOther transportation resources on this website are:


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