Although a car offers greater convenience and flexibility than other modes of transportation, many people with disabilities cannot afford owning and driving a car to move from one place to another. Even though people with disabilities can drive, including the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and people with developmental disabilities, they face discrimination and gatekeeping in obtaining a driver’s license, as well as stigma questioning their driving competence.
“Studies have shown that people without access to a car reach fewer activities and services and are more likely to be subject to social exclusion. Age and disability can also prevent people from driving and using public transport.”
– p. 9, Urban Insight, 2018
Therefore, accessibility of public transportation plays a vital role in advancing the mobility of all people with disabilities in everyday life, i.e., grocery shopping, working, studying, obtaining healthcare services, attending social gatherings, engaging in cultural, leisure and sports activities. For some, public transportation is a necessity, especially people who are Blind and Visually Impaired and people with chronic pain or chronic fatigue.
Unfortunately, public transportation in many localities have not been planned and implemented to cater to the diverse needs of people with disabilities.
To ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to public transportation facilities, amenities and services, Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act 2008 section 27(2) states that:
“providers of such public transport facilities, amenities and services shall give appropriate consideration and take necessary measures to ensure that such facilities, amenities and services conform to universal design in order to facilitate their access and use by persons with disabilities.”
This is included as an action step under the National Transport Policy 2019-2030 (strategy 3.4) to “improve accessibility at passenger terminals and on public transport with the aim of universal access for persons with disabilities”.
Some accessibility features are currently in place, such as buses and trains being designed to accommodate wheelchair-users, and installing lifts and accessible toilets in public transport stations. Persons with disabilities are also offered concession fares (discounted) for public transport rides. However, these are inadequate to make public transportation accessible and usable for persons with disabilities in Malaysia.
Barriers to public transportation experienced by persons with disabilities in Malaysia include, but are not limited to:
Accessible public transportation is not just about making vehicles usable for wheelchair-users and building accessible toilets in public transport stations; even though the aforementioned are important. However, it is much more than that.
The design of public transportation needs to be adapted to the needs of people with diverse abilities and disabilities to enable greatest ease of use for ALL users. Public transportation facilities and services need to:
*Note: Resources linked are in English and pdf or webpage format, unless stated otherwise.
Accessible Public Transport by Urban Insight
The Importance of Public Transport Accessibility and Social Inclusion by UITP (Union Internationale des Transports Publics)
Making Public Transport Information Accessible to Disabled People by Lise Wagner for Inclusive City Maker
Public Transport: Accessibility Solutions, Also for the Intellectual Disability! by Zoe Gervais for Inclusive City Maker
One in Four Disabled People Don’t Use Public Transport Due To Negative Attitudes from Other Passengers, New Research Finds by Helen Coffey for The Independent, UK
Why Riding the Bus with a Hidden Disability Can Cause Anxiety by Emilia Wilson for The Mighty
Transit OKU Should Be For All Wheelchair Users in PJ by Peter Tan, disability activist