Travelling with a wheelchair or other mobility aid has become easier than ever with many cities throughout New South Wales becoming more accessible for people with disabilities.
In fact, New South Wales is one of the most disability-friendly regions in Australia and is home to some of the most accessible cities in the world. NSW has implemented accessibility standards to accommodate the needs of a diverse range of people with disabilities such as wheelchair users and people with visual or hearing impairments.
Accessible public transportation, mobility scooters, wider footpaths, accessible retail outlets and disability-friendly recreational areas are just some of the recent improvements that are making NSW a barrier-free and accessible location for all.
Disability-friendly public transport in New South Wales
Trains and buses
For wheelchair users and those with mobility issues in New South Wales, public transportation is an invaluable resource that can save users time and money when commuting to work or running errands.
The majority of trains and new buses in New South Wales are wheelchair accessible, though there are still some limitations on older vehicles. The NSW Government has come a long way to ensure accessibility for those with limitations. These improvements have made a huge step in opening up New South Wales to both residents and visitors with disabilities.
Some of the positive improvements on public trains and buses include:
- Boarding ramps for getting onto vehicles
- Manual or power-assisted boarding devices
- Allocated wheelchair spaces
- Wider and unobstructed doorways
- Signs and tactile paving for passengers with visually impairments
- Emergency alarms
Assistance animals are permitted on all public transport routes in New South Wales and passengers can bring a range of mobility aids on board including wheelchairs, scooters and walking frames.
Please note that not all trains, buses, ferries or coaches in NSW are accessible with a mobility device. To plan an accessible journey in advance you can use the Trip Planner tool by selecting the accessibility check box.
Wheelchair Accessible Taxis (WATs)
There are many wheelchair accessible taxis (WATs) in New South Wales that cater to the needs of those with limited mobility or using mobility devices.
This means that a person in a wheelchair who is unable to use public transport can now fit both themselves and their wheelchair into the taxi, which was once a difficult undertaking for NSW residents with disabilities due to a lack of disability accessible vehicles.
People with severe or permanent disabilities may qualify for the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme, which subsidises the travel costs of participants, allowing them to use taxis at a discounted rate.
Travelling with a mobility aid in New South Wales
Mobility scooters can be used on buses, trains and ferries in New South Wales; however, there are limitations on which type of scooter is allowed. Smaller mobility scooters generally fit on board public transportation services, whereas medium to large scooters may not be suitable.
In order to reach your destination safely by mobility scooter, the NSW Centre for Road Safety recommends that mobility scooter users adhere to the following:
- Plan ahead so you can follow a route that allows footpath access
- Know where there are kerb ramps or driveways you can use for safe crossings
- Avoid highways, roundabouts and major roads
- If you have no choice but to use the road, try to travel on streets that have less traffic
- Check the route before setting off to make sure it is suitable for a mobility scooter
Most cities in New South Wales have all of the wheelchair accessible features you would expect to find in a disability-friendly country such as Australia, including curb ramps and crosswalk signals with a button that is within reach of wheelchair users.
In addition, the “rollability” of areas in NSW has greatly improved over the years with footpaths in most major areas that cater to large numbers of pedestrians becoming broader and more even for wheelchair users to travel safely and more easily.
Request a mobility aid through EnableNSW Equipment Allocation Program
Mobility equipment for people who temporarily need access to a mobility scooter for outdoor or community access can be requested through the NSW Government’s EnableNSW Equipment Allocation Program (EAP). These mobility aids need to be prescribed and requested by an appropriate medical or allied health professional.
Before requesting a mobility scooter prescribers should:
- Review the available equipment at the Enable Equipment Centre
- Complete a Stock Equipment Request Form
- Complete an EnableNSW Application Form
- Have a Medical Questionnaire completed by a GP
Disability-friendly air travel in New South Wales
All commercial airports in New South Wales have been adapted to accommodate travellers who are wheelchair users or have limited mobility and offer a range of services and facilities for those with specific accessibility needs.
If you are travelling with your own wheelchair or mobility aid, all you need to do is present yourself at the check-in desk on arrival so that your equipment can be tagged with luggage labels.
If you need help getting to your departure gate, you can speak to an employee at the assistance desk who can make the necessary arrangements to meet your needs. If you require additional assistance getting to your aircraft seat, this can also be arranged at the airport but it may be a good idea to call ahead to make sure that staff are available on the day.
Disability accessible retail and recreational facilities
In the past, there was an absence of disability-friendly options for accessing services and recreational areas, but the NSW Government and business owners are making a big effort to increase the freedom of wheelchair users with many cities in NSW already working hard to ensure facilities are accessible to all.
An increasing number of buildings, attractions and recreational facilities are improving their amenities so that they can provide easy access to people with disabilities. These facilities include beaches, parks, museums, cinemas, sporting complexes and retail outlets.
Making New South Wales a more mobile place for everyone
ConnectAbility Australia wants to help all members of our community to easily make their way around New South Wales with accessible and wheelchair-friendly travel options.
If you have any questions about the NSW transportation options or need advice on travelling with a mobility aid, you can contact us on 02 4962 1000, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our online contact form and one of our support coordinators will be in touch with you shortly.