If you haven’t heard the acronym ‘DDA’ before, then it stands for the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The Act makes disability discrimination unlawful, and aims to promote equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities.
From a transport perspective, equal access is governed by the ‘Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport’, which requires all new public transport systems since 2002 to comply with the standards, and gives a 30 year timeline for existing systems to become compliant. On the Melbourne rail network the most visible outcome of DDA compliance are the ‘bumps’ that line the edge of most platforms – the official term is ‘Tactile Ground Surface Indicators’.
Southern Cross Station is no different with tactile paving: the round dimples mark obstructions and changes in direction, while the longer bumps mark paths for vision impaired people to navigate around the station.
Unfortunately the quality of the tactile paving used around the station leaves something to be desired: every few months when I seem to find another section of paving being reattached to the concourse.
With the ongoing renovations at the station easy access for the vision impaired has not improved, with a number of obstructions installed on the concourses. One example is this former staircase: now taken up by a new retail store, the remaining half height step has been blocked off to eliminate the trip hazard, and tactile paving installed around the railing.
In other areas tactile paving leading into dead ends have been ripped up and replaced by plywood sheeting.
However the line between ‘poor design’ and ‘evil’ is found on the only path between the suburban platforms and the lift on Spencer Street: this length of tactile paving leads vision impaired people into the construction hoarding.
- A brief guide to the Disability Discrimination Act: from the Australian Human Rights Commission
- Introduction to Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport: from the Attorney-General’s Department