Ok so yesterday I noticed at Town Hall Station that one of the barriers (by the name of " Charlie Barrier" near the lifts for platforms 1, 2 & 4) had the new opal card readers. Now it looked quite impressive being all shiny, new with a opal coloured light above, but I noticed instantly a huge if not major big stuff up by the transport minister, Cubic Transportation Systems and Transport for NSW.
What's the issue I hear you ask, well let me put it this way, if you were in a wheelchair and could not properly usetilse your arms (or legs in some instances), relating to your disability, then you honestly could not touch on or off your Opal Card without having someone either go rummaging for your opal card through your personal belongings let alone have a carer have your OPAL card with them.
So why would Cubic Transportation systems let alone the NSW Government or Transport for NSW have not thought about how this will impact the disability community and commuters who travel in most cases by themselves for work and want to maintain their independence completely baffles and surprises me.
It just goes to show how literally top management/ceo's of transport departments, current government representatives in NSW and the private sector are so far out of touch. Yeah ok its great that our transport systems are somewhat wheelchair accessible, but we are talking about a system that by 2014 will be fully in force, with tickets no longer in use and the only way to pay for fares is via this OPAL card its any wonders why people can't think what EVERYONE'S requirements when it comes to implementing transport requirements instead of just implementing and thinking about the actual issues later.
I am sorry but it's just plain stupidity and not acceptable at all. Not at least in this day and age when you think about it. But instead I am going to offer a suggestion I did put to a couple of my friends at CityRail, who I might add, reckon it could be some feasible if not looked at as an alternative additional option.
My suggestion/option is to have like an etag thing that is the exactly the same thing as the OPAL Card, but has a slightly stronger signal that can be read by a scanner (somewhat like the etag system for cars but for wheelchair passengers) that is only applied for by people who actually require them (so people with disabilities that require the use of a wheelchair, walking sticks, crutches and or/a walking frame). The card would be put on a lanyard or kept in the pockets of the passenger and the scanner would be located at the top of the wide gate prior to openning with a loud beep given to indicate the pass has been accepted. There would also be a little screen either at the top if not at one side where the passenger can see the balance display.
Of course this is merely a suggestion, but one which in all honesty should be looked into as a matter of urgency and I would love for the Minister for Transport NSW, Gladys Berjiklian, to either talk to the disability community about these issues and find out suggestions how to better plan instead of looking like a right old mess - which in someways she actually does quite well on her own, don't you think ;)
Below is an example of the new Opal Card scanner located right next to the wide gate at Town Hall Station.