National Accessible Transport Taskforce update—May 2020

The National Accessible Transport Taskforce (the Taskforce), jointly led by the Australian Government and Queensland, is driving the reform and modernisation of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (Transport Standards).

Reforms are to be based on four principles that have been endorsed by the Transport and Infrastructure Council (which sits under the Council of Australian Governments):

  1. People with disability have a right to access public transport
  2. Accessibility is a service, not an exercise in compliance
  3. Solutions should meet the service needs of all stakeholders and be developed through co-design
  4. Reform should strive for certainty without sacrificing best functional outcome

Members of the Taskforce include representatives from the disability community, the Australian Government, state and territory governments, industry and accessibility subject matter experts. The Taskforce is led by the National Accessible Transport Steering Committee which provides oversight and direction to the Taskforce and ensures that a national perspective is provided to the work of the Taskforce.

The Taskforce reports to the Transport and Infrastructure Senior Officials" Committee (TISOC) through the National Accessible Transport Steering Committee. The project and forward work program is endorsed by the Transport and Infrastructure Council.

The Taskforce first met in Brisbane in September 2019. The inaugural meeting considered the scope and process by which work on modernised Transport Standards would be conducted.

On 6 to 7 February 2020 the Taskforce met for the second time. At this meeting the Taskforce endorsed a proposal to TISOC to develop a number of ideas for initial reforms, fitting within five themes.

  1. Improving the accessibility of infrastructure
  2. Improving access on conveyances
  3. Making information more accessible
  4. Improving the whole of journey
  5. Providing flexible and innovative solutions to challenging situations

In late April TISOC endorsed the Taskforce to develop initial ideas for reform and test them for feasibility, before consulting with broader stakeholder groups. The Taskforce anticipates that people with disability, public transport operators and providers and other interested stakeholders, will have the opportunity to contribute to the reforms in the second half of this year or early next year.

Several key issues raised by industry and disability sector representatives were also discussed at the meeting and ways forward considered. Amongst the issues was public engagement. The Taskforce proposes to develop strategies to engage stakeholders and keep them informed of progress to ensure that they are ready and able to participate in the public consultation phases of the reform and modernisation process.

With the current COVID-19 situation, the National Accessible Transport Steering Committee and the Taskforce is mindful that this is likely to have an impact on the format and timing of consultations. We will continue to monitor the situation and endeavour to advise of any changes to the process.

Further information on the reform of the Transport Standards can be found on the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications website.