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Murrays $15 CBR-SYD service under threat from Disability Lawsuit

By MrPC - 17 October 2010 28

Yahoo7 news brings us the story of a woman who was refused travel on the Murrays service because none of their ‘coaches’ were low floor wheelchair accessible, nor did any have wheelchair lifts or some other provision for passengers in wheelchairs.

“(I want) people to realise that legislation is important and that it needs to be respected … and that people with disabilities have equal access to things,” Ms Haraksin said outside the court on Friday.

“People in the general community do not realise that everyday, people with disabilities still face quite a bit of discrimination.”

Never mind that, as far as I know, there aren’t any long distance coach services in this country that are wheelchair accessible.  Those that claim they are are usually lying, according to someone I once spoke to in regional Victoria before V/Line started chartering accessible taxis to drive behind their scheduled coach whenever a booking was made on the coach by someone in a wheelchair.  They used to (and in some cases still do) expect you to haul yourself on board up 7 stairs while the driver stows the wheelchair into the luggage bin under the coach.

In this case, Ms Haraksin, the woman bringing the lawsuit against Murrays, wants them to retrofit 25% of their coaches to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs, regardless of the cost.  There would of course be a significant upfront cost (structural modifications aren’t cheap, to cut holes in the frame to allow a wide, high level door, plus enough mounting points to fit a hydraulic wheelchair lift at the door).  There’d also be a significant ongoing cost (one wheelchair space = 4 seats removed on every service = remaining 48 seats must generate more revenue per seat to deliver the same return).

This would surely mean the end of the business model that gives Canberra to Sydney travellers $15 fares.  They may even axe the service entirely and focus on their tour bus operations.

Greyhound would then no longer need to sell $20 fares to try and compete with Murrays.

Everyone would lose, even Ms Haraksin, who had announced she is not seeking any compensation.

The NSW bureaucrats that run Countrylink (who have continued to charge $45-60 fares to Sydney throughout most of the Murrays/Greyhound price war) must be rubbing their hands with glee.  Their service has been accessible since the early 90s when the Xplorer railcars came in, and usually aren’t very full due to competition from Murrays and Greyhound (not to mention QANTAS and Virgin Blue).

Fortunately for Countrylink, as of earlier this year the connecting ACTION service from their station at Kingston (the 727 Redex) is 100% low floor.  Most of the buses on the 980 weekend route are low floor as well.

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28 Responses to
Murrays $15 CBR-SYD service under threat from Disability Lawsuit
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Skidbladnir 9:24 pm 18 Oct 10

Pandy said :

So by 2022 100% of all taxis in Australia will be wheelchair compliant? What about the train and tram fleets around the country?

If you want to query it, go read the goddamn Standards.
Different conveyances/operators/providers have different timetables.

The subject at hand was coaches, I was talking coaches.
If you want to talk taxis, trams or trains, go look up how the timetables apply to them.

Be warned, its almost painfully dull.

Pandy said :

I just wonder if some of the people writing these laws up are pin heads?

The Standards are undergoing review right now, actually.
Feel free to make a submission. There’s a link to it from the AG’s website (or just ask Google).

el 9:06 pm 18 Oct 10

Does anyone else think Captain RAAF is a tool?

Does anybody think he isn’t?

Obvious troll is obvious?

Could Murray’s not negotiate a deal with Countrylink for cheap train fares for ‘referred’ wheelchair passengers? Both companies win by not looking like arseholes, and wheelchair-bound passengers win by getting to travel on the much more comfortable trains at the same (cheap) price.

Pandy 8:41 pm 18 Oct 10

So by 2022 100% of all taxis in Australia will be wheelchair compliant? What about the train and tram fleets around the country? Think not.

I just wonder if some of the people writing these laws up are pin heads?

MrPC 8:22 pm 18 Oct 10

As fas as I know, the Disability Discrimination Act only covers public transport servces. For bus and coach operators, that is arguably interpreted as buses on Motor Ombibus number plates (MO plates). Murrays run their services on TV (Tourist Vehicle) plates, not MO plates.

Greyhound runs on MO plates, so they clearly have to comply.

The question here is more whether Murrays scheduled services to Sydney constitute public transport, and whether they are misusing their TV plates. If they are misusing them, then the DDA applies. If they are operating a small side business to a much larger tour bus business (which they arguably are), then the DDA arguably wouldn’t apply.

farnarkler 6:19 pm 18 Oct 10

Murrays should get some legal counsel from Brindabella airlines. According to their website, they’re exempt from having to take wheelchair bound passengers.

Skidbladnir 4:00 pm 18 Oct 10

p1 said :

Ahh, so apart from the fact that which vehicles are covered is explicitly defined, it is the “public transport” part that defines which rule you have to follow.

Well, I left out the other definitions and statements (ie: of ‘public transportation service’ and ‘providers’) mostly because the entirety of the Standards and the specifications required are there in the linked document.
The details of the Standards are exceedingly dull for anybody without an interest in disability policy, but they do actually include a timetable for compliance on bound parties.

Basically, by 2007 coaches should have had 25% compliance. By 2012 they should have 55% compliance, by 2017 90% compliance, and by 2022 they need 100% compliance.

Hells_Bells74 2:03 pm 18 Oct 10

Maybe it wasn’t that high, but whatever I had to pay caught me offguard as it used to be free within the NSW.

Hells_Bells74 1:59 pm 18 Oct 10

buzz – Last time (only time even) I booked travel using a PCC through Countrylink office in Civic, when I was on the Pension it lead me to the Jolimont Centre to take a coach, not Kingston Railway. It also cost $22.00 or something like that.

Health care cards I’m not sure what they get. Usually not much.

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