Objective 5Passenger accessibility improvements
- School Transport Assistance Scheme Transformation Project
- Taxi Subsidy Scheme
- Queensland Personalised Transport Horizon
- Trials to improve accessibility and inclusiveness on the network
- Passenger Transport Accessible Infrastructure Program
- Local Fare Scheme
- Mornington Island runway
School Transport Assistance Scheme Transformation Project
The School Transport Assistance Scheme (STAS) provides assistance to eligible students on rail, bus, ferry and tram services. It contributes towards the cost of transporting children to and from school, and assists parents to meet their legal obligation of ensuring their children are enrolled in and attending an approved educational facility. During the 2016 calendar year, STAS assistance was provided to 131,828 recipients.
In January 2017, we commenced the STAS Transformation Project to replace a number of existing manual forms used to process assistance applications, with a single online form. The STAS online form is designed to simplify and speed up the application process, provide more accurate records and automate aspects of the application that cannot be achieved in paper form. Paper forms will continue to be available if online access is not available.
Taxi Subsidy Scheme
The Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS) (see glossary) is a Queensland Government initiative designed to provide an affordable and accessible transport option for people with a disability who experience profound difficulties using other modes of public passenger transport.
As at 30 June 2017, the department paid an average subsidy of $7.74 per trip and 1,819,649 trips were taken by TSS members in 2016–17.
Specific benefits of the scheme include a subsidy paid by the Queensland Government of half the total taxi fare, up to a maximum subsidy of $25, and access to subsidised taxi travel in other Australian states and territories.
In December 2016, we implemented the $20 Lift Payment Incentive to encourage drivers of wheelchair accessible taxis to give priority to transport eligible TSS members. $5.6 million was allocated to this initiative as part of the personalised transport reform Industry Adjustment Assistance Package. As at 2 June 2017, approximately $2.2 million had been paid as part of this initiative, for approximately 108,000 trips.
In 2016–17 drivers of wheelchair accessible taxis were incentivised on over 108,000 trips for people with disabilities who are unable to access public passenger transport.
Queensland Personalised Transport Horizon
This year we supported the development and implementation of Queensland's Personalised Transport Horizon – Five Year Strategic Plan for Personalised Transport Services 2016–2021.
To inform the development of the reforms, TMR consulted with the personalised transport industry, consumers and disability groups during six workshops as well as through the Personalised Transport Industry Reference Group.
We also led the development of the Transport and Other Legislation (Personalised Transport Reform) Amendment Act 2017, which was passed by the Queensland Parliament in May 2017.
Acknowledging that some existing taxi and limousine businesses would find transitioning to the new framework challenging, the state government established a $100 million Industry Adjustment Assistance Package.
The package included a range of financial, advisory and incentive measures as set out below:
- $60 million in transitional assistance payments
- $26.7 million for an industry hardship fund
- $3.75 million for business advisory help
- $4.3 million in waived fees
- $5.6 million to incentivise drivers of wheelchair accessible taxis to prioritise services for taxi subsidy scheme members who travel in a wheelchair.
Trials to improve accessibility and inclusiveness on the network
TMR undertakes ongoing engagement with the disability sector as part of its commitment to improving the accessibility of the public transport network.
The department's Accessibility Reference Group (ARG) meets quarterly and includes representation from government, industry and disability advocacy groups. The ARG discusses issues related to improving the accessibility of the Queensland passenger transport network for customers with disability. The ARG is regularly engaged to provide feedback on accessibility related aspects of projects being undertaken by the department.
In addition to engagement through the ARG, targeted consultation also occurred with disability advocacy groups on various infrastructure related projects and initiatives throughout the year to ensure needs of customers with a disability are considered.
Such projects and initiatives have included:
- design and construction of the bus and ferry interchange at Redland Bay
- design of the King George Square bus station accessible toilet access buttons
- trialled use of braille/tactile bus stop blade sign identification numbers.
To ensure information provided about public transport services through the TransLink website is accessible for people with vision impairment, the department engages Vision Australia to undertake annual reviews of the website as well as testing of the MyTransLink app throughout the year.
Given the reliance some people with disabilities have on personalised transport, the department engaged with the disability sector during the significant reform of the personalised transport industry this year. A representative of the disability sector held membership on the Personalised Transport Industry Reference Group. The establishment of the group ensured ongoing industry engagement and input into delivery of the reform program.
Passenger Transport Accessible Infrastructure Program
TMR's Passenger Transport Accessible Infrastructure Program is an initiative providing funding assistance to local governments for upgrading existing passenger transport facilities to meet the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (DDA) (see glossary).
These funding contributions allow local governments to:
- increase accessibility for communities
- modernise passenger transport facilities to meet current standards
- apply consistent design standards across the passenger transport network.
This year, $5.076 million of funding assistance was provided to 18 local governments across Queensland to support upgrades of urban bus stops to meet accessibility standards. In addition, approximately $200,000 was provided towards upgrading long-distance coach stops, and approximately $1 million was provided towards ferry terminal upgrades, enhancing safety and accessibility for passengers.
Funding for infrastructure upgrades under this scheme included:
- $500,000 for a new Mornington Island jetty
- more than $3.5 million distributed to south east Queensland local governments for upgrades to about 1000 urban bus stops for DDA compliance
- a $250,000 contribution to the Redland City Council for the planning/design and concept phases to redevelop and re-build the Russell Island ferry pontoon.
The success of these infrastructure grants programs is built on the partnership approach with local governments, working together to deliver a single integrated transport network accessible to everyone.
Local Fare Scheme
The Local Fare Scheme was established in July 2015 and aims to improve the standard of living in remote parts of far north Queensland. By providing a discount of up to $400 off a return fare for eligible residents, it makes air travel to access health, education and employment facilities more affordable.
Further social and recreational benefits are realised and these in turn help boost the local economy. The scheme has achieved 6656 discounted travel bookings during the year.
The scheme is administered through participating airlines and local councils throughout Cape York and the Torres Strait.
Mornington Island runway
Regular air services were restricted during the Mornington Island runway repairs which occurred between November and December 2016.
The department provided a contingency air service between Normanton and Mornington Island. This ensured the community of Mornington Island remained connected to the Gulf route and other major transport hubs of Cairns and Mount Isa.
The contingency air service operated two return services each week day. These repairs to the runway were over 12 months of running contingency services to the community.
This brought a welcome return to regular services for the community of Mornington Island, with increased seats on each service and a return of Regional Express, the regular provider of this service.