After years of campaigning for accessibility upgrades at Auchenflower and Taringa train stations, we are one step closer to fully accessible train stations in Maiwar. Major construction on accessibility upgrades has started at Auchenflower station, with completion planned for early 2023. Sadly there are still no plans from the Government to upgrade Taringa station.
I have written to the Minister for Transport and the Treasurer multiple times to push for Taringa station to be placed on the priority list for upgrades. Most recently, I met with representatives from Queensland Rail and the Department of Transport and Main Roads on 14 July 2020. They let me know that an upgrade to Taringa station is not currently on their priority list, despite it being used more than 50,000 times a month (more than the patronage of other stations which have upgrades scheduled or near completion). Taringa station is also very close to important community facilities including a private hospital, medical centre, pharmacist, pathology, shops, a church, and a park. Despite this, Taringa station remains only accessible by stairs with no upgrade planned.
This issue is being felt by residents across Queensland. Right now, only about 55% of our train stations statewide are independently accessible. The State government has some upgrades planned, but these will only bring us to 60% accessibility. That’s a significant number of train stations where residents in wheelchairs, those with mobility issues, and even parents/carers with prams are unable to access their local train station.
Alongside residents and disability advocates, I’ve been calling on the government to commit to full compliance by the 2022 deadline specified in the federal Disability Discrimination Act. During Estimates hearings in 2018, the Transport Minister admitted that the government wouldn’t meet that deadline.
Accessibility is an essential investment for our communities. Everyone should be able to access our public transport system. Investing in these vital infrastructure upgrades has clear social, economic and health benefits. It would also provide much-needed jobs during Queensland’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
Right now, what’s missing is political will. If you’re affected or concerned by our inaccessible train stations, please sign my petition and write to the Transport Minister (email@example.com) asking him to commit to 100% accessibility by 2022.