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HCM City to improve bus access for disabled

 VietNamNet Bridge – People with disabilities are thankful for the efforts HCM City has taken to increase their access to public buses, but say more can be done.

VietNamNet Bridge – People with disabilities are thankful for the efforts HCM City has taken to increase their access to public buses, but say more can be done.


The HCM City-based Disabilities Research and Capacity Development (DRD) Centre and the Transport Management and Operation Centre yesterday provided training to the staff and managers of 22 transport companies in helping disabled people get into and off buses. Courtesy photo of DRD Centre



“I am very proud of the city’s bus system,” Nguyen Van Cu, deputy head of the HCM City-based Disabilities Research and Capacity Development (DRD) Centre, told a conference it organised to find ways to better help people with disabilities travel by buses and integrate into society in other ways.

Compared to other provinces and cities, buses in the city are better and easier for people with disabilities to use, Cu said.

However, the city should continue to improve and address shortcomings in service attitude and other aspects, he added.

Le Hoang Minh, deputy head of the city Department of Transportation, said that the city was one of the first localities in the country to exempt people with disabilities from buying bus tickets, before a provision to this effect was included in the 2012 Law on People With Disabilities.

The city now has 263 of its fleet of 2,512 buses with low or semi-low floors that help people with disabilities, especially wheel-chair users, get into buses as also those with automatic bridge-plate or ramps, more than double the 117 in 2012.

It is also introducing 1,680 new buses in a four-year (2014-2017) period, including 300 buses with low floors using compressed natural gas as fuel.

Moreover, 350 of 497 bus stops have been upgraded to have sloped entrances for wheel-chair users, Minh said. Bus stations in the city have staff on hand to guide people with disabilities on using the bus service better, he added.

Phan Thi Kim Van, a wheelchair user and third-year student of the city’s University of Social Sciences and Humanities, said: “I am very addicted to commuting by bus. I take it everyday to college.”

However, the buses she uses have high floors, and whenever she has to board one, the staff and/or other passengers help out, she said.

Van said the helpful attitude was markedly different from earlier days when the staff, instead of helping her, showed obvious irritation and bad temper.

“Now, the attitude of the buses’ staff has changed because I am a familiar face. Both the driver and the conductor are friendly,” Van said.

Nguyen Thi Huyen, another wheelchair user and student of the University of Information Technology, said she usually experiences a good and friendly attitude from bus staff. “They tell me to be careful, and get on to the pavement after getting off the bus,” she said.

Told to get off

However, there are times when buses refuse to take her. “On November 6, a bus conductor asked me to get down because there was no place for a wheelchair. This after I was helped to get into the bus,” she said.

Another wheelchair user, Tran Phuong, complained that the sloped ramp to bus stops are often occupied by vendors, and others in similar situations said several bus stops are too narrow.

Phan Thanh Tan of Bien Hoa City, who has a hearing impairment, has been rejected several times by bus staff because he uses a card that exempts him from buying a ticket.

Although the Law on People with Disabilities grants the exemption, several people who are entitled to it still pay the bus fares.

Nguyen Tan Tao, deputy head of Transport Co-operative No.15, said all the bus drivers and other staff should be informed about the exemption and instructed to be friendly and helpful to people with disabilities.

They should take in the initiative in opening buses for people with disabilities and even help them get exemption cards from the Transport Management and Operation Centre, he said.

Other conference participants suggested that L.E.D. signboards and loudspeakers are installed at bus stops so that people with hearing and visual impairments know where they need to get off.

Other suggestions included smart phone apps, bus maps and directions to bus stops; signboards announcing ticket exemption for people with disabilities; simplified procedures for the exemption card; and broadcast of videos in public spaces on ways to help people with disabilities.

Training courses

Minh of the Transport Department said training courses have been opened to improve the attitude of bus drivers and staff.

More than 1,000 cameras have been installed to ensure compliance, and by the end of next year, smart cards will be piloted towards reducing discrimination against people using exemption cards.

The smart cards will be provided free to people with disabilities, he said.


Ha Noi offers bus tickets to poor workers

The Ha Noi Confederation of Labour (HCL) will offer bus tickets to 1,400 disadvantaged workers to travel home on the Tet (Lunar New Year).

In particular, tickets will be provided to those working in industrial and processing zones, as well as the garment sectors.

Under the scheme, workers will be transported on three routes, Ha Noi-Thanh Hoa, Ha Noi-Ha Tinh and Ha Noi-Nghe An. Coaches will pick up workers at Thang Long Industrial Zone, Quang Minh Industrial Zone and the office of the Ha Noi Confederation of Labour on No 3 Chu Van An Street in Ha Dong District on January 25, two days before the Tet holiday begins.

The HCL has asked labour unions at industrial zones and garment sectors to choose those qualifying workers.

In addition, trade unions in industrial zones are expected to arrange coaches free of charge to transport poor workers who wish to return to their homes to celebrate Tet with their families, according to HCL.

The upcoming Lunar New Year will begin on January 28.

The government has approved a seven-day break for the holiday from January 26 to February 1.

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