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Chennai bus stops not disabled-friendly’ dtd 19.4.2022 (Advocacy)

CHENNAI: The Greater Chennai Corporation's new 'barrier-free' bus stops have drawn flak from disability rights' activists, who have raised accessibility issues in the system. Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) has one bus with foldable ramps to help disabled passengers board and get off the vehicle. It is operated along the Thiruvanmiyur-Thiruvottiyur route. The civic body recently modified three bus stops along this route at Mylapore, Raja Annamalai Puram, and Rajaji Salai in order to make it disabled-friendly.

It had ramps, handrails, and a few structural changes were made. But activists said none of them were compliant with the Harmonised Guidelines as per Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016 and Rules.


According to the guidelines of Union urban affairs ministry, all bus stops should be 400mm high so that level boarding is possible into low-floor buses, which have a floor height of 650 mm. The ramps have to be a part of the pavement so that they can gradually go up to 400 mm on one side and on the other side it should gradually decline to the pavement.
"But at the three bus stops in Chennai, the pavement is inaccessible as ramps are provided at only one end and it is cut off abruptly. Wheelchair users are greatly affected by this design flaw," said Vaishnavi Jayakumar of Disability Rights Alliance (DRA).

Also, the handrails do not extend past the ramp as required by the Harmonised Guidelines. Moreover, contrasting colour coating so that the outdoor ramp's handrails don't become too hot are missing, she said.
In response, a senior GCC official said that they made these changes to study the possibility of expanding it to other bus stops in the city and they were open to concerns raised by all stakeholders including activists, transport and differently-abled persons welfare departments.
"Increasing the height of bus stops was causing difficulties to residents and commercial establishments in the area. We are open for discussion," the official said.