Card for disability

People who are blind or have low vision will travel more easily with the launch of a new card

A new travel card has been launched in south east Queensland to help those who are blind or have low vision use public transport with more ease.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson says the State Government has worked closely with peak disability advisory groups and their clients to prepare for the three-month trial of the go access Vision Impairment Travel Pass, which uses smartcard functionality.

"The State Government is committed to creating a public transport network that is accessible to all Queenslanders as part of our strong plan for a brighter future," he says.

The current flash pass carried by about 3,500 people doesn’t have smartcard functionality and can’t open the fare gates at train stations, requiring a Queensland Rail staff member to open the gates for them.

About 50 people will be trialling the new card, which uses smartcard technology to open fare gates, allowing them independent access through closed fare gates at stations, without the assistance of a staff member.

"While this might seem like a small change for many public transport users, this trial could make a huge difference to participants’ lives, and I’m eager to hear the results after the trial ends in March next year," says Emerson.

The announcement comes after Queensland Bus Industry Council (QBIC) executive director David Tape criticised a real time information system chosen by Queensland’s transport ministry for the state’s bus network.

Tape says the system falls short of required standards to meet the needs of disabled passengers, as previously reported by ABC magazine.

"This particular system doesn’t provide accessibility for people with hearing or vision impairment," he says.

Tape’s concerns were recently raised at the quarterly Accessibility Reference Group forum, convened by Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.

But disability support groups have thrown their weight behind the initiative.

Guide Dogs Queensland Rehabilitation Services and Vision Australia agree the new travel card is a step in the right direction.

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