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NST – September 25, 2006: Disabled want better access to public transport

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Disabled want better access to public transport
25 Sep 2006

KUALA LUMPUR: Disabled people are tired of broken promises, tired of pleading their cause and fed up that their needs are still being ignored.

Twelve years ago, the Barrier-free Environment and Accessible Transport (BEAT) group staged a protest against the Star LRT but nothing has changed.

“In 1994, a group of disabled persons staged a protest against the Star LRT for banning wheelchair users. Now, 12 years later, it is still inaccessible!

“With the exception of Putra LRT, KTM Komuter, KL Monorail, and now the newly-launched RapidKL buses, our needs have been ignored,” BEAT representative V. Murugeswaran lamented at a gathering of about 40 disabled people at the Bangsar LRT station yesterday.

They were at the launch of RapidKL’s new bus network covering Klang, Shah Alam, Subang Jaya, Damansara, Petaling Jaya and Puchong.

Murugeswaran said the disabled felt excluded from society. Most cannot work because of poor access to public transport and buildings.

“We need to go out and work and contribute to society, and not be dependent on charity,” he said.

They handed a memorandum with their wish list to Women, Family and Community Development Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Paduka Chew Mei Fun, who was on an outing with the Senior Citizens Association, Selangor and Federal Territory.

Murugeswaran pointed out that Kuala Lumpur would be hosting the 9th Fespic Games from Nov 15 till Dec 1, the biggest event for disabled athletes in Asia and Oceania.

“What kind of impression are we giving to the international disabled community if we have no proper facilities? There’s a RM10 billion allocation to upgrade the public transport system, but there’s nothing for the disabled,” he said.

A RapidKL spokesperson said the transport company had bought 100 disabled-friendly buses with ramps. These would be delivered next month.

NST: Beat member Peter Tan demonstrating how impossible it is to board a bus

Related entry:
Wheelchair-Unfriendly Rapid KL Buses



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Wheelchair-Unfriendly Rapid KL Buses

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) at Bangsar LRT Station
At the Bangsar LRT Station. Datin Paduka Chew (in blue) is standing next to Christine Lee.
Photo by Wuan.

Barrier-Free and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) consists of disabled persons who are concerned that no effort has been put into making public transport accessible in Malaysia, especially in Kuala Lumpur. With that in mind, BEAT Coordinator Christine Lee organised a group of disabled persons who are mostly wheelchair users to congregate at the Bangsar LRT Station in an attempt to board the Rapid KL buses there.

Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) at Bangsar LRT Station
Holding up the memorandum to demand for accessible public transportation.
Photo by Wuan.

Unfortunately, none of the buses have facilities to accommodate wheelchair users. This fact was acknowledged by Katherine Chew, Senior Manager Corporate Communications Division of Rapid KL. She then informed those present that Rapid KL will put into service 100 accessible buses within one month to address that issue.

Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) at Bangsar LRT Station
Katherine Chew, Senior Manager Corporate Communications Division of Rapid KL speaking to journalists.
Photo by Wuan.

BEAT also presented a memorandum to Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, who was present at the station. The contents of the memorandum included the call to the government to adopt and enforce accessibility standards for planning of all public facilities and public transport systems, and implement non-discriminatory policies and protect the rights and dignity of disabled persons.

Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) at Bangsar LRT Station
No way to get into the new Rapid KL bus on my wheelchair.
Photo by Wuan.

At the same time, Katherine has invited NGOs of disabled persons to a dialogue with Rapid KL next week. This is to get feedback from the NGOs on how the bus network can best serve the needs of disabled persons. BEAT indicated that accessible public transportation will not only benefit disabled persons but the elderly, pregnant women and persons with temporary mobility impairments. In the meantime, we wait with bated breath for the 100 new accessible buses to ply the streets of Klang Valley.

Related entries:
Accessible Public Transport



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