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Published: 2008-07-29 00:00:00

The CBD Shuttle bus service in Hamilton is now even easier for people to use as part of an Accessible Journeys trial.

The trial – involving two upgraded vehicles - is aimed at making buses more user-friendly to a range of people with accessibility issues, such as the elderly, wheelchair users and people with vision and hearing impairments.

Our picture from last Friday’s Accessible Journeys launch shows Bob Wicks, employment consultant for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, using a ramp to help him get aboard. The ramp is also particularly useful for the likes of wheelchair users and parents or carers pushing prams.

At Mr Wicks’ feet are new tactile arrangements, which help people with vision impairments more clearly identify where to board the bus.

The launch of the Accessible Journeys pilot was attended by the Minister for Disability Issues Ruth Dyson, Human Rights Commissioners Robyn Hunt and Rosslyn Noonan, Regional Land Transport Committee chairman Norm Barker and Hamilton's Mayor Bob Simcock.

Accessible Journeys team member Gerri Pomeroy from CCS Disability Action spoke of her experiences as a wheelchair user. She was described as a human rights hero by Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan for her efforts in getting the pilot established.

"Hamilton has come along in leaps and bounds with public transport in recent times and this project is a sterling example of how local government and other government organisations have worked exceptionally well together to get the pilot off the ground," said Cr Barker.

"From here it is vitally important that we hear from people with accessibility issues, about the improvements made to the CBD Shuttle and this will then feed into the setting of quality vehicle standards (QVS) for bus services nationwide."

Besides having ramps and adjusted kerbs at bus entry points, the two CBD Shuttle buses have, for example, also been retrofitted with new seating layouts, audio and visual equipment used for ‘next stop announcements’, and wider aisles.

The Accessible Journeys trial has involved collaboration between the CCS Disability Action Group, Environment Waikato, Hamilton City Council, The Human Rights Commission, Land Transport New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

The trial is due to run until 24 October 2008