How Accessible is Transit in Other Countries?

Ramp sign at Bangalore train station

I recently returned from visiting family abroad. And while travelling had an opportunity to use a variety of transportation from plane, train, bus, taxi and autos. Thought I’d provide some initial thoughts on how accessible the transportation options are.

Paris, France

I was only able to use their metro system, the Paris Metro. It has over 15 lines, and from my experience on Line B, C, 1 and 6; none of them are accessible, the entrances are small and the machines which you put your pass through wouldn’t fit a wheelchair. The metro cars, depending on the station had different gaps (in height and distance) and not all lines had trains that announced the next stop. If you were there on a stop over a one day pass round trip to and from the airport would be about €10 ($ 13.23 CAD) which gives you access to all zones. In my opinion Paris and its metro system isn’t built with accessibility in mind.

Bangalore, India

In Bangalore I was able to use several types of transportation. I did not see or inquire about any accessible taxis, none of their buses seemed to be accessible and the little three wheeler autos are definitely not wheelchair accessible. I did spend more time on the trains and metro.

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Namma Metro station elevators
  • The new metro system Namma Metro is accessible, their stations have ramps and elevators. The trains have visual and audio announcing the next station. The cost to go six stations is about ₹30 ($0.60 CAD).
  • The Bangalore City Railway Station is somewhat accessible, they have ramps onto some of their platforms (two ramps at this station with six platforms). Most trains have marked accessible compartments, I do wonder with a step how a wheelchair can get on. The trains do not announce each stop and the stops are rather quick depending on which station.
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Bangalore City Railway Station Ramp

Overall Bangalore isn’t very accessible, especially the streets is not pedestrian friendly, not much of a sidewalk and traffic is chaotic. I’m most impressed with Namma Metro, once you make it in, it’s very accessible and they have staff on hand to help with elevators. Once all the stations are complete it would be a great way to travel around the city.

Kollam, India

In this smaller city there’s the train to the city, taxi, bus and autos. None of these are accessible.

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Three wheeler autos

Singapore

The SMRT (Singapore Mass Rapid Transit), very reliable and all of the stations I used had elevators. All the train compartments had a designated area for wheelchairs and had visual and audio announcements. For $2.40 SGD ($2.18 CAD) you can get a one way trip from the airport to downtown Singapore. Not all exits from the metro are accessible, it is however the most impressive for its cleanliness (no eating or drinking) and efficiency (on-time and speed).

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Inside a SMRT subway train

Penang Island, Malaysia

On Penang Island you can either take the bus or taxi. Both of which are not wheelchair accessible.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In Kuala Lumpur, much larger than Penang has more transportation options. Their metro system is quite extensive and most of their stations are accessible. Some of their lines even have personnel on hand to help with stair lift operation.

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Stair lift in the Kuala Lumpur metro station

Closing Thoughts

This is my thoughts based on limited experience on using these different types of transportation in each city. My favourite city based on convenience, price and accessibility would have to be Singapore. If you have had experiences in these countries, please do share!

Terrence
About Terrence 75 Articles
I am passionate about people and focused on developing meaningful opportunities for people with accessibility needs through social entrepreneurial initiatives in journalism, consulting, and arts. As a TED talks junkie, I would love to hear your story and ideas. Reach out and connect with me!

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