RAIL advocates say improved access for all abilities needs to be part of the state government’s plans to redevelop the Ballarat station precinct.
City of Ballarat councillor Belinda Coates joined a Save Our Station rally at Ballarat Train Station on Tuesday morning to highlight concerns with the existing path, along the Lydiard Street crossing, for those unable to climb the historic overpass between platforms.
Cr Coates, who sits on the City’s disability advisory committee and active transport group, said it did not particularly matter how access issues were improves – with lifts or an underpass – as long as planners kept it “front of mind”.
“We’re really wanting some commitment from the government to prioritise disability access because we know it improves access for everyone, whether you’re a person in a wheelchair, or with a walking frame, an older person or someone with a pram,” Cr Coates said. “If we want to encourage people to use public transport, it really needs to be user friendly that’s the key message.”
Cr Coates said the state government had assured new works would be Disability Discrimination Act compliant but was yet to confirm any retro-fitting to improve existing issues.
About 50 people took part in the SoS rally. This included timed walks from platform one to platform two to highlight the alternate access path took double the time to complete compared to the stepped overpass.
SoS, which is advocating to stop the state government’s station redevelopment, claim the journey would take longer for people coming from the proposed new car park in Nolan Street.
SoS member Min Myers said the group was keen for a modern transport hub for travellers across western Victoria, but to do so it must be more access friendly.
A spokesperson for Victorian Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the government was working on upgrades across the network to make public transport easier for everyone.
“Our Ballarat station precinct redevelopment project will deliver a new more accessible and user friendly bus interchange as well as DDA compliant care spaces to make it easier for people with a disability to park and ride,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to explore options to support people of all abilities to use Ballarat station.”