Ministry seeks funds for accessible transportation

Asia-Pacific, Transportation, September 4 2014

BANGKOK: The Transport Ministry is preparing to ask the newly appointed cabinet for extra funding to build better transport facilities for commuters with disabilities and older people.

Past governments had never allocated money specifically for things like wheelchair ramps, lifts, special toilets and car parks, or signs to help people with disabilities travelling public on trains and buses.

Instead, agencies under the ministry had carved out portions of their budgets for these facilities, said permanent secretary for transport Soithip Traisuth. Little had been spent and only a few facilities have been built.

Ms Soithip said she will ask the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, which oversees services for people with disabilities and older people, to seek cabinet approval for the funding.

So far, under the government’s budget, funds for services to people with disabilities and older people have been diverted to the Education and Interior ministries, which run agencies seen as being more closely connected to their welfare than Transport.

But Ms Soithip said the Transport Ministry is responsible for mass transport of people, including people with disabilities and older people. More funding would enable them to build new facilities and improve existing ones.

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority already has wheelchair lifts on four No.39 buses and made a fleet of 29 so-called “talking buses” along the No.12 route, Ms Soithip said.

First introduced in 1998, the talking buses beam information through loudspeakers fitted in the ceilings of bus stops, which announce the arrival of buses to passengers with vision disabilities.

The State Railway of Thailand, meanwhile, has installed wheelchair lifts and larger toilets in 10 train compartments and at many train stations.

The ministry has also ordered reduced fares for passengers with disabilities travelling on buses, trains and on Thai Airways domestic routes.

Source: Bangkok Post

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