26 September 2023

Audited trams found off the track

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A performance audit examining whether tram services are meeting the accessibility needs of passengers with mobility restrictions has found that they are not.

The audit examined the Department of Transport (DoT) and Yarra Trams (YT), which operates the tram network through a franchise agreement with DoT.

In his report, Accessibility of Tram Services, Auditor-General Andrew Greaves said the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) requires that all tram stops be fully compliant with the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (DSAPT) by 31 December 2022 and all trams must be DSAPT compliant by 31 December 2032.

“Notwithstanding these legislative requirements, a person with a mobility restriction cannot have, in any practical sense, an accessible tram journey without both a level-access stop and a low-floor tram,” Mr Greaves said.

“In 2018–19, only 15 per cent of tram services delivered a low-floor tram at a level-access stop,” he said.

“DoT has not met legislated targets for accessible tram infrastructure and cannot comply by 31 December 2022.”

He said, based on the trend to date, “DoT is also at risk of not meeting the 31 December 2032 tram compliance requirement.”

Mr Greaves said the Department had no way of knowing when all tram services would be fully DDA and DSAPT compliant due to a lack of a finalised strategy or a funded plan.

“Noncompliance poses a financial risk for the State due to possible legal rulings against it for not meeting legislative requirements,” he said.

“It also means that many people with mobility restrictions will continue to face practical and physical barriers when trying to access the tram network.”

The Auditor-General made 10 recommendations to DoT, all of which were accepted, aimed at improving their legislative compliance and understanding of the accessible infrastructure gap as well as the costs and benefits of tram stop works.

Mr Greaves also recommended that the Department improve public information on tram accessibility and that tram network planning be linked to accessibility outcomes.

The Auditor-General’s 87-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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