Monday, July 25, 2011

In Australia, short-statured people protest inaccessible Metro in Melbourne

From The Herald-Sun in Australia:

Melbourne's train operator Metro has come under attack from short-statured people, who claim the company has left with nowhere to sit and nothing to hang on to.

Metro this week rolled out modified carriages with some seats removed to create more standing room.

But for anyone who can't reach an overhead handle, or push through a crowded carriage to grab a handrail, life has become just a little bit harder.

Members of the Short Statured People of Australia have condemned the change, saying it is just one more reason not to use public transport, the Herald Sun reports.

Samantha Lilly, 22, (pictured) said the thought of entering a crowded carriage with little hope of a seat was "just horrible".

"My face is at bottom height, so a crowded train is horrendous," the 112cm university student said.

"It's quite scary. People don't know you are there and if they step back you can get trampled.

"If people can see you and know your intentions they let you through, but if they can't move they can't let you through anyway."

Trams are just as frustrating. Several years ago Ms Lilly was fined for not having a ticket, but she could not reach the vending machine. "A lot of us have that problem," she said.

"When I argued with them they told me to ask a stranger to buy a ticket for me. Eventually they dropped the fine, but I thought things would change. They haven't."

Sam Millard, 23, (pictured) is 120cm and also a university student. He stopped using public transport because he decided it was unsafe. "The hardest thing is getting on and off," Mr Millard said. "When things are really crowded it can be dangerous and you get bumped around."

Metro spokeswoman Geraldine Mitchell said the removal of seats would improve access to handrails.

"Our assessment of the congestion near the door areas has proven there is limited access to handrails for all heights," she said.

"This change will ease congestion and improve customer flow, providing better access to handrails."