Strategic approach and guiding principles
The Plan is broadly aligned with the principles of the NSW Ageing Strategy 2016-2020 as well as the approach and priorities that Transport for NSW is adopting in its Future Transport Strategy 2056 and the supporting Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2018-2022.
Actions included in this plan are based on a set of guiding principles that determine Transport for NSW’s approach to service provision and affirm its commitment to making NSW a better place to live and work.
The principles are outlined below:
Convenient and responsive to customer needs
Older customers across their life stages need timely information about the transport services that are best suited to their needs and ability.
At some stage in their life, an older person may need greater assistance to access services. This may be through accessible design of transport services, targeted information, seamless interchanges between services and modes of transport or extra consideration on customer safety. All of these considerations help improve the overall transport experience.
Accessible for all customers
Accessible pedestrian infrastructure is important for connecting older people with transport services. Older customers must be able to physically access train stations, bus stops, light rail stops and ferry wharves. Improvements in access and connections to community services and facilities, such as hospitals, allied health care services and shopping centres will work to benefit all customers utilising transport services.
Even where physical accessibility to train stations, bus stops, light rail stops and ferry wharves meets accessibility requirements for older customers, these services may not reflect the travel demand patterns of older customers who typically travel in off-peak hours and to and from destinations not typically prioritised in routes that primarily service commuter travel.
Accessibility can be achieved through the adoption of universal design principles that remove physical barriers to access and create buildings, products and environments that are usable by people of all abilities. Broad accessibility principles should, however, include more than just physical access to premises and conveyances. Universal design requires that transport services also provide barrier free (e.g. step free) access for people who have vision, hearing or cognitive impairments.
Whole of journey accessibility
Connectivity of public transport services and assisted transport services is critical to older people in all life stages.
An accessible transport system can be thought of as a series of multi-modal integrated transport systems and services. It involves barrier free access to:
- the pedestrian environment
- the different modes of transport
- the road network.
Many older customers will use all three parts of the system: either as public transport users, drivers or passengers in cars, or as pedestrians. As these services become more seamless and connected, travel becomes easier for customers with specific needs, including older people.
Reduction in transport disadvantage
Transport for NSW recognises the significant transport disadvantage older customers may face as they age. Transport disadvantage may arise from a number of factors including poor access to infrastructure, low income, geographical isolation, high cost of alternative transport services such as point to point transport providers, lack of confidence and concerns for personal safety.
Reducing transport disadvantage requires a multi-faceted approach, ensuring continued affordability of services and providing support services for frail, older customers who are unable to use mass transit public transport services.
Development of partnerships
Locally, councils and community organisations are well placed to develop and implement initiatives that best suit their local communities. State-based tools and planning instruments assist with implementing programs and policies that meet state-based policy commitments and priorities.
While the State Government is responsible for the delivery of transport services, local government has a critical but often under- acknowledged role in facilitating transport solutions that can enable mobility for all people within their community.
Planning and design of local neighbourhoods influence traffic management and pedestrian environments, and provides for bus stops, footpaths and kerbside infrastructure, parklands, recreational facilities and important social infrastructure such as libraries.
Innovative solutions to accessibility
Transport for NSW is committed to developing innovative and practical solutions aimed at reducing or minimising transport disadvantage. Innovation may not always involve technology solutions, as the recent trial of a flexible bus service from Tottenham to Dubbo demonstrates (see Case Study).
Assistive devices and services have always been crucial to overcoming barriers for older customers and those with a disability. As technology advances, Transport for NSW will continue to identify opportunities to harness these new tools to improve access for all our customers. While our customer base, including seniors, are increasing their use of technology to access and customise transport service options, many older customers are on the wrong side of the digital divide. It is therefore important to ensure that information is still available in a number of formats to address different needs and abilities.
Transport for NSW will foster a culture of openness to innovation and change, looking interstate and abroad for best practice approaches to accessibility. Transport for NSW will also strive to be a leader in engineering creative solutions, particularly in a rural and regional setting.