News / Transport

Tram stop campaign targets Sydney Road again

Organisers are frustrated at slow progress on accessible public transport

Protesters at the June rally in Sydney Road.

Mark Phillips

PUBLIC transport campaigners will blockade Sydney Road next week for a second time this year to call for accessible tram stops.

The protest, to be held on September 17, follows a rally which blocked traffic in June.

It will be used to launch Australia’s inaugural Transport Equity Week, which seeks to elevate the voices of those facing transport disadvantage and to demand action from local, state and federal governments to improve transport equity for people who use mobility devices, the elderly and parents with children in prams.

Sydney Road is the focus of activity because it has only two accessible tram stops in a 5.5 km stretch of from Brunswick Road to the end of the tram line in North Coburg.

This situation has become more dire with the looming closure of the Upfield railway line during construction of the Brunswick level crossing removal project. This is likely to put trains out of action for 18 months until the elevated skyrail is open, leaving people with mobility issues with few options for accessible public transport during that period.

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Earlier this year, in its skyrail policy paperReshaping Brunswick, Merri-bek Council advocated a full revitalisation of Sydney Road as part of the level crossing removal project, including accessible tram stops and better infrastructure for walking and cycling.

Under the commonwealth Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport, all state governments were required to public transport infrastructure fully accessible by the end of last year.

But only 15% of Victoria’s public transport had achieved that target by the deadline.

When Brunswick MP Tim Read asked a question in Parliament about the issue in June, Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll said the government was investing in low floor trams, but gave no timeline for when accessible tram stops would be built for Sydney Road.

Accessible tram stop protest halts traffic on Sydney Road

Christian Astourian, who uses an electric scooter to get around and is one of the organisers of both rallies, said the government response was “very disappointing”.

“It demonstrates again their [the state government’s] lack of vision in investing into healthy communities and creating opportunities for all members of society by implementing a basic human right, in this case mobility,” he said.

More than 100 protesters attended the first rally on June 17, bringing traffic to a standstill as they marched up Sydney Road to the Brunswick Town Hall.

Organisers are hoping for a similar turnout this month. The rally will begin in the Wilson Avenue open space, opposite Barkly Square, at 1pm on Sunday, September 17.

For those unable to attend, there is also a petition to State Parliament about the issue.

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