The need for data2 min read
Roger Loveless works as an Access Co-ordinator for CCS Disability Action. In this blog post, Roger talks about the need for accurate data on the transport needs of disabled people.
I and my co-worker, Gerri Pomeroy, have a good relationship with our local councils in Hamilton. We have spent a large amount of time convincing Hamilton City Council and Waikato Regional Council of the need to collect reliable data on disabled people. The City Council has begun to collect limited data and the regional council now counts the number of wheelchair journeys on Hamilton’s urban buses (Currently between 300 and 400 passengers every month).
The way transport projects are funded is complex. Council’s make initial decisions, but when projects are subsided by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), they come under NZTA funding rules. Unfortunately, this means our good relationships with councils can be wasted when NZTA funding rules override the decisions made by councils.
The NZTA does not currently collect reliable data on the transport needs of disabled people. The lack of data means NZTA’s funding rules often fail to properly consider accessibility issues. This can mean that projects that are important to the disabled community often become low priority and are not funded.
What we need is for the NZTA to collect reliable data on the disabled community and to use that data in their rules. That way at every level the right decisions would be made about accessibility. We need to know where the barriers and bottlenecks are in order to address them.
We firmly believe because of its key role in the transport planning process, the NZTA has an obligation to collect data on the 743,800 New Zealanders who reported some level of disability. Gerri and I have been working hard to develop ways to collect reliable data, but we cannot do it on our own. We need the government, councils and transport companies to work with us and the wider disability community.
It is in everyone’s interests to do so. Good accessible transport and infrastructure is essential to improving the lives of all our citizens and achieving the government’s goals. For example, as part of the current welfare reforms, the government is putting emphasis on getting disabled citizens into employment. This cannot happen unless accessible transport and infrastructure is in place. People need to get to and from work.
With an aging population accessibility is only going to become more important in the future. The Government also has an obligation under Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure everyone can access public transport and infrastructure.
There is a clear need to collect and use reliable data on the accessibility of public transport and infrastructure. We just need to all work together to convince the government, councils and transport companies.