Bus Stops For Disabled People

There is something very wrong in Rapid Penang’s announcement on accessible bus stops. Rapid Penang Chief Executive Officer was quoted by NST for saying “Even though only four per cent of the disabled use public transportation, we see this as a commitment which must be fulfilled immediately.”

I sincerely thank Azhar for taking the initiative to ensure that disabled people, especially wheelchair users, have access to public transportation. Nevertheless, I would like to know where he got the figure of four percent from? Is this the part of the current ridership statistics of Rapid Penang? Or is that the projected statistics after the bus stops become accessible?

If the statistics are current, Azhar should realise that Rapid Penang buses and all other public buses in Malaysia are not accessible to wheelchair users. If the statistics are projections, then it may be inaccurate as there is no way to tell how many disabled people will use public transportation when it becomes accessible.

Disabled people have equal right to public transportation. By becoming a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Malaysia has acknowledged this fact. Even if one percent of disabled people use public transportation, it should be made accessible. Statistics should not be used as a justification to provide or not to provide such facilities.

The bus stops should be built according to the principles of universal design which provides solutions that everyone can use and not limited only to disabled people. That makes better sense than building “ramps specially designed for the wheelchair-bound.” The time has come for society to shed the mentality that the needs of disabled people are extraordinary and needs addition expenditure and effort to provide for.

Frankly speaking, if Rapid Penang, which is a subsidiary of RapidKL, had seriously listened to disabled people who had advised them on this in the beginning, they would not have to go reconstructing the bus stops to cater to wheelchair users. They should have just brought in kneeling buses which would have solved the problem and saved themselves the trouble. Kneeling buses are very people-friendly. Senior citizens, parents with prams and aunties dragging a trolley-full of groceries will be able to get into the buses without breaking a sweat.

But this is Malaysia. People make money from making mistakes. And the needs of disabled people are often seen as opportunities to make even more money. Welcome to my world.

NST Online ยป Local News
Upgrade of bus stops mooted

GEORGE TOWN: RapidPenang has submitted a proposal to the state government to take over bus stops and bus stations in the state in a bid to upgrade and standardise the designs of the stops.
Its chief executive officer, Azhar Ahmad, said the takeover process was planned to be carried out in three phases over the next six years.

“In the first phase, we are expecting to take over some 60 bus stops to manage and maintain them using our own money.

“The first phase is expected to cost RM3 million and will take some two years to carry out,” he said after a ceremony to confirm RapidPenang bus captains and the launch of the monthly students’ passes here yesterday.

He presented 60 monthly student passes to three non-governmental organisations.
Azhar said the company also planned to equip the bigger bus stops with facilities for the disabled.

“These include ramps specially designed for the wheelchair-bound.

“Even though only four per cent of the disabled use public transportation, we see this as a commitment which must be fulfilled immediately.”

Azhar said the state government was expected to give the go-ahead in one or two months’ time.

RapidPenang – Where Are The Non-Step Buses?

RapidPenang is going to add another 50 buses to its current fleet by the end of the year. The million ringgit question is: Are these buses of the non-step type that wheelchair users can use? If not, where are the promised buses to cater to the needs of disabled people? There was no mention of whether disabled people can use these buses or if they are accessible. My guess is that they are not.

Many of my disabled friends in Penang are unable to go anywhere because there is no accessible public transport in the island. They have to give up schooling because they cannot go to school. Without an education, they are unable to find gainful employment. Many of them practically have no social life because they are stuck at home most of the time.

Disabled people are the most disadvantaged and marginalised in any society, Malaysia included. Many are living in poverty. Their plight are mostly ignored and forgotten. It is regrettable the previous government in Penang did little to change the situation, preferring to give all sorts of excuses to exclude the needs of disabled people from using public transport. I truly hope the new Chief Minister of Penang Lim Guan Eng will seriously resolve this matter for once and for all.

RapidPenang to get 50 more buses: NST – March 14, 2008

RapidPenang to get 50 more buses
By Melissa Darlyne Chow

14 March, 2008

GEORGE TOWN: RapidPenang will be adding 50 buses to its fleet by the end of the year. This is due to increasing demand from residents in south Kedah and north Perak.

Its chief executive officer, Azhar Ahmad, said new routes were being planned in places such as Kuala Muda, Penaga and Kepala Batas.

“People in Kulim and Padang Serai in Kedah have also requested for buses to ply the routes there.

“We now only have 150 buses, so we are planning to add more by the end of the year,” he said after an appreciation ceremony for its bus captains here yesterday.

Azhar said people now had more confidence in RapidPenang as the company practised transparency and accountability.

He said exemplary bus captains, such as Ibrahim Abdullah, who had stopped to help three snatch victims get police help in Bukit Minyak two months ago, were also one of the factors which boosted people’s confidence in RapidPenang.

On the state government’s plans to have other competitors ply the routes as a way to improve the public transportation system, Azhar said competitiveness was not a factor.

“It is more about providing on-time and efficient service. We welcome the competition, and we also look forward to working closely with the state government to improve the public transportation system.”