Skip to main content

Accessible Transport

Driving increased patronage and economic participation

Transport accessibility is more than just a compliance. It is about helping the members of our community who often need it the most, driving significant growth in patronage, increasing economic participation, and creating a social impact that far outweighs the cost.


In Australia, as we invest billions to grow and transform the transport network to respond to changing societal demands, accessibility is front of mind for transport agencies and governments alike. The federal government have undertaken a review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public transport, and the Albanese government have committed to the first update of these standards since they were first introduced 20 years ago. This will require a minimum standard, across all modes of transport - train, bus, ferry, tram and taxi - to ensure it is fit for purpose and meets the current needs of Australians.

The implementation of these reforms will improve accessibility and support for independent travel and in assessing the viability and implementation of these reforms, public transport providers need to look beyond the cost and compliance.


Benefits beyond compliance


Our point of view is that accessibility is not just about compliance, or managing risk, but delivering a service to the members of our community who often need it most, while driving significant growth in patronage, increasing economic participation.

Over 4.4 million Australians identify as having a disability, and most people will experience some form of disability during their life. With our current transport network nationally, one in six people aged 15 years and over with a disability have expressed difficulty using public transport, identifying the lack of transport accessibility as one of the barriers to their participation in the economy. Expanding this further, lack of transport connectivity has a disproportionate social and economic impact in rural communities.

By removing barriers to accessible transport, patronage will increase. If we reduce the inhibiting barriers for individuals, it enables a larger portion of the population to engage with the network. The social benefit of this is estimated to be more than double the cost of implementation.

What are the anticipated flow on benefits of accessible transport?

Improved patronage:

Public Transport providers Australia wide are seeking to increase patronage numbers and reduce the cost per journey. Accessibility can be a key driver for this growth, with more accessible networks encouraging greater network participation for all. Global railways have seen significant patronage growth by focusing on this opportunity, leveraging new technologies to tackle initial barriers to areas such as customer information. From a broader benefits perspective, this also results in less emissions, and reduced congestion.

Improved economic participation:

Accessible public transport provides greater connectivity to areas with employment opportunities, healthcare services and commercial centres. This particularly benefits individuals residing in suburbs or rural areas who may otherwise face challenges commuting to work. Assistance in transport is the number one requirement expressed by people with a disability – an accessible network would remove this need for many, and support individuals with disabilities or limited mobility to commute independently across multiple transport modes. From this, we can harness the talents of a wider pool of individuals, leading to increased innovation and economic contribution within the community.

Enhanced tourism opportunities:

An accessible transport network is becoming increasingly important to tourist and visitors. It can unlock a city as a possible tourist location, and provide ease of access to key attractions. Globally, we have seen a significant uplift in accessibility in the lead up to major events. The Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic games aim to leave a legacy of “A more equal and accessible games”. The transport network is a key enabler of this, particularly given the dispersed nature of the Games, which will be delivered across Southeast Queensland.

The International Paralympic Committee Accessibility Guide (IPC) establishes global standards which will need to be adhered to by Game organisers – creation of an accessible transport network in Queensland will be fundamental to enabling seamless mobility for athletes, officials, and spectators, ensuring inclusive participation, and contributing to the overall reputation of Brisbane and Australia as it hosts the Games.

With the global spotlight on South East Queensland through this event, this provides a unique opportunity which should not be missed, to encourage investment from transport agencies and governments alike.

The key to success

With the benefits apparent, how can Australia be successful in creating an accessible public transport network? 

We believe policymakers and transport authorities can enhance the inclusivity and accessibility of Australia's public transport network by employing the following four step methodology to prioritise interventions effectively: 

By understanding the pain points at each stage of the customer journey, you can remove the barriers to travel. Challenges such as the lack of accessible journey planning tools, absent audible announcements, and inadequate real-time updates are significant impediments to accessibility.

Read more

Many reform areas and obstacles have commonalities, which will enabling consolidation of initiatives into coherent groups. By aggregating challenges and identifying underlying patterns, policymakers and transport authorities can take a more holistic and practical consideration of where to invest to resolve accessibility issues.

Read more

Once the obstacles have been consolidating into initiative groups, they can be evaluated to understand their relative cost and benefit. In this context, costs considers the investment and operating costs associated with rectifying the accessibility challenges contained within each grouping. The benefit considers both the number of people who will benefit from the proposed initiative, and the scale of the benefit they will see. This ranges from hinderances that make the journey more challenging, to barriers that prevent the journey from being undertaken.

Read more

These initiatives do not exist in isolation, and so it is important to review them with consideration of the broader context. This includes alignment with the broader strategy, integration with the impact and requirements of different business units (such as workforce implications), and how this can tie into the existing roadmap of asset and infrastructure renewals and upgrades. Initiatives that align with existing objectives and delivery plans will leverage existing resources and investment allocation, reducing the overall cost of implementing the reforms. For instance, any upgrades to real time communication and information should consider the capabilities of the existing technology within the organisation, and the pipeline for changes to elements such as websites, apps and other communication platforms.

Read more

In conclusion

With a strong pipeline of transport investment across Australia, we need to change how we view the business cases that funds accessible transport initiatives, to include patronage targets and the benefit of increased economic participation as a key driver to delivering social impact that far outweighs the cost.

Did you find this useful?

Thanks for your feedback

If you would like to help improve further, please complete a 3-minute survey