Sunday, August 3, 2014

Questions to the Minister

Today, Transport for All NSW has sent the NSW Transport Minister, who is also the Minister for the Hunter Region, Gladys Berejiklian, an extraordinary list of questions but also concerns from long suffering wheelchair and disabled commuters.

These questions and concerns are based on feedback provided during various discussions but also forums in which disabled and wheelchair commuters have generally been the after thoughts when in comes to transport in this great city of ours. We here at TfANSW hope to have answers within the next few weeks, but given our previous response took about a month or so for a reply, we won't be holding our breathe just now.

So without further a-do, here is the list of questions we have placed to the Minister:

Dear Minister,
I would like to thank you for the extremely late response I got from my previous enquiry (ML14/07473) which seemed to have come from your secretary but yet again did not answer my questions.
So therefore I have a growing list of issues I would like to bring to your attention, but hopefully get an answer for and in some cases, an explanation as to why you have failed disabled commuters especially NSW TrainLink customers.
The issues I have so far from concerned wheelchair & disabled commuters are as follows:
Intercity Fleet/NSW TrainLink Questions/Issues
1) Why is the Government spending approximately from our sources $10-$20Millon on refurbishing the V Set (Intercity) fleet of 262 carriages of which only 4 to 8 carriages are wheelchair accessible (which is appealing I must say and does not meet DDA compliance) and are not considering on making the remaining carriages wheelchair accessible until the new intercity fleet arrives?
2) With the New Intercity Fleet of which you will be spending a total of $2.8Billon, Will be:
  • Fully Wheelchair Accessible & meet DDA compliance?
  • First Class if considered, will be available to wheelchair & Disabled Commuters & if so what would be the fare structure in this instance?
  • Have on-board facilities such as a wheelchair accessible toilet & if a CafĂ© is available, its services can be accessed by disabled & wheelchair users alike without any hassles for both staff & these commuters?
3) With the truncation of the Newcastle line at Wickham in December this year, can you confirm why light rail will not be built at the same time as the truncation works, but a year later after the truncation and how Wheelchair & other disabled commuters will not be affected or further impacted or delayed by trying to interchange with what is already busy Newcastle Bus services?
4) Will the Minister also confirm that the new interchange at Wickham be fully wheelchair accessible, meet DDA compliance and not have either a gap or height issues which currently plague the current V Sets, Hunter railcars, Endeavour Railcars and OScar trains?
5) How will disabled or wheelchair commuters access light rail at the new Wickham interchange station, as the artists impression documents and pictures do not give a clear indication of:
  • the location of accessible bus stops?
  • the location of an accessible light rail stop?
  • the location of accessible facilities such as toilets or change-rooms?
  • the location of ticket machines or windows for assistance by staff?
  • if platforms for both train & light rail will be 'gap free' meaning little or no gap at all along with no height differences requiring a ramp to be placed between the tram or train and the platform?
6) What new stations will be considered for an upgrade to become wheelchair accessible under the transport master-plan within the NSW TrainLink operations?
7) Can the Minister confirm or outline her & her depts. (TfNSW & NSW TrainLink/NSW Trains) have a plan to replace the current XPT train services with a new fleet and what the replacement fleet look like and be like for wheelchair disabled users?
8) if the Minister does have a replacement for the XPT, can she confirm if the new train fleet will be fully wheelchair accessible and on-board services be abled to be fully accessed by wheelchair commuters/customers?
Opal Card
9) Can you outline the EXACT timetable of when the Gold Opal Card, and how people with Centrelink benefits will be able to obtain these cards?
10) For people with disabilities who are not able to exactly 'tap on' and 'tap off', can you confirm if the TfNSW & Cubic Corporation Australia Pty Ltd are and will make available a card holder which will be placed on the wheelchair as such and that this holder will be free or will there be a cost?
11) Who is exactly exempted from obtaining a Opal Card and will therefore be entitled to free travel around the whole entire train, bus, ferry and light rail systems?
Trains (both Sydney Trains & NSW TrainLink)
12) What is TfNSW doing to reduce the gap and height differences between the train and the platform at Sydney Trains Stations for Wheelchair passengers?
13) Can the Minister confirm if the lifts at Wynyard will be replaced and the time frame for this to occur?
14) Can the minister confirm when the remainder of the lifts at Blacktown Station and the Interchanges will be replaced?
15) Will the lifts be replaced at the new Penrith Station and if so, the impact that will have on wheelchair users/commuters/customers and what the timetable will be?
17) Can the Minister confirm that Rooty Hill be in-fact be considered for an upgrade to become DDA compliant and be finally wheelchair accessible with either lifts or ramps and the if so, the timetable this will occur in?
Light Rail
18) In regards to the Inner-West Light Rail Extension (which we gladly thank you for delivering), can you please explain why someone in a wheelchair who wishes to travel from say, Marion Street to Dulwich Hill but then needs to change to the heavy rail at Dulwich Hill Interchange to continue on to say Bankstown or Liverpool or even Lidcombe, would be required to either travel to central then travel via train because of the lack of a simple lift at Dulwich Hill Sydney Trains Stations and why your dept & Government did not consider placing and upgrading the heavy rail station at Dulwich Hill whilst construction of the light rail extension was occurring?
19) Why is there a lack of an accessible bus route to take disabled passengers from Lewisham West station to the Wheelchair Accessible Sydney Trains Station at Summer Hill?
20) With the CBD & Eastern Suburbs light rail extension, can the minister confirm that platforms will be fully wheelchair accessible and that there will not be a gap, allowing wheelchair users to get on a tram without the need to call upon the guard or driver, potentially delaying services and causing hassles for wheelchair users
21) With the NWRL, can the minister confirm that their will either be a guard or staff member either on board the trains or at stations that will be able to assist wheelchair & other disabled commuters to get on and off the train without hassle?
22) With the NWRL/SRT trains being driverless, can you confirm trains will NOT leave a station before and after a wheelchair user board or alights from the trains?
23) Will there be staff at stations to assist Wheelchair & other disabled commuters out at stations?
24) In relation to the tunnels and in deed the sky train of the NWRL, can the minister confirm that wheelchair users will be able to get out of the train and into an emergency exist should:
  • the train suddenly stop or if there is a fire without the assistance of fire brigade staff; or
  • Will there be staff aboard the train to assist evacuate wheelchair and other disabled commuters?
  • What are the plans should such an event occur and will disabled/wheelchair commuters be made aware of the evacuation procedure (either via a PDF/Braille documents of YouTube Video) before operations commence for the NWRL?
25) Can the Minister confirm that wheelchair and other disabled commuters will not be impacted and be able to board already crowded T1 - Western, North Shore & Northern Line trains when the NWRL begins operations?
26) When the NWRL begins to take over the ECRL part of T1, what services will be in place and how will wheelchair and other disabled commuters access these services and how can the Minister confirm that there won't be either significant delays or hardships to disabled/wheelchair commuters alike?
27) will the replacement shuttle services (most likely buses in this instance) for the ECRL part of the T1 line be fully wheelchair accessible during the take over and reconstruction for the NWRL operations and the exact timeframes this will occur and be completed by?
Ferry Services
28) Can the minister confirm that the new Ferry fleet be fully wheelchair accessible and have on-board facilities catering to wheelchair users?
29) Can the Minister confirm what Wharves are due to be upgraded within the next 12 to 24 months and the time frame for these to occur and what services will be in place to allow wheelchair ferry commuters will not be impacted by these upgrades?
I understand these are a heck of a lot of questions, but given both the NWRL, Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink and TfNSW have not been able to answer these questions, it has fallen onto a coalition of disabled commuters via our membership base through Transport for All NSW to find out what the issues and questions are and try to obtain these answers for us disabled commuters.
We look forward to your response Minister.
As you can see, we had a total of 29 Questions and answers for which as stated above, we hope to have an answer for you all soon, but as stated and thanks to our own previous experience trying to obtain any sort of correspondence back took nearly over a month. So we won't be holding our breathe.
But We would like to open the floor to you all again, to tell us what your issues or concerns are. You can do that either via 2 ways, by commenting in the comments below, or visiting our Facebook Page and leaving your comments there.

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