The disabled say they cannot use these ramps and wheelchairs without getting help from others and so they refuse to use them.
The government may have provided facilities like wheelchairs and ramps for the disabled in buses and at bus stands, but they remain unused. Disabled passengers refuse to use them saying they are inconvenient.
“Only a few buses have ramps. It is too difficult to use ramps as we always need help from someone. They should make buses wheelchair-friendly. We cannot keep going to specific places where they have these ramps. I rarely use buses because of not having accessibility,” Fousiya Abdul Rawoof, a locomotor disability person who works as a senior coordinator at The Association of People with Disability, informed The Observer.
The Observer found ramps at bus stations gathering dust.
“People do not have patience till we (disabled people) board the bus. Even if we board the bus, the seat that is reserved for us is occupied by others. It is so difficult for us to use public transport. To avoid that, I use my two-wheeler,” said C. Kanagaraj, a disabled person.
The Karnataka State Policy of Disability ensures the implementation of legislation related to persons with disabilities enshrining the objectives in the PWD Act, 1995.
The government has implemented other facilities like free tickets and two seats for the disabled in every bus.
“We do have facilities here, but people do not use them. The ramp is not properly manufactured. It is so high. Disabled people find it difficult to climb them,” Yasin Sahed, a BMTC depot security guard, said.
“There are facilities for the disabled here, but I have not seen anyone using them,” Syed Iqbal, who owns a snacks shop at the Shantinagar BMTC bus stand, said.
“Buses are said to be disabled-friendly, but in reality, they are not. Building ramps in a few buses for the disabled doesn’t work in any way. Accessibility of the bus for the disabled itself is difficult. If basic transport is not accessible to disabled people, what can they do? Everything should be done systematically like how it is done in Delhi, and awareness created among the disabled,” said Rama Krishnamachari, director of the Diversity and Equal Opportunity Centre, an NGO.
Disabled people The Observer spoke with said facilities like wheelchairs and ramps do not facilitate them in any way. Ramps are built too high and they cannot board buses without support. Passengers do not have patience till they settle in their seats. As public transportation is difficult and inconvenient, they prefer to use their own vehicles. Bengaluru’s buses are too crowded, making it difficult for these people to get in without hassles.
BMTC PRO Deepak N. said: “We are working on implementing two facilities: ramps which can be used by the disabled at any bus stop…, and LED boards with voice announcements for the disabled.”
BMTC conducts training sessions for the crew on how they should behave with the disabled.
There are 1,117 low-floor TTMC buses in the city. Also, 2,963 ordinary buses have floors that the disabled can access easily.
“In Bengaluru, the Metro is fairly accessible, but to reach it, buses are the only feasible option. If buses are not accessible to the disabled, what is the use of having ramps at bus stations? When we talk about the disabled, we only talk about wheelchair users, not the blind. These transportation facilities should be accessible to all. There has to be a holistic approach,” Sunil Jain, founder trustee and chief enabler of Astha, an NGO for the disabled, said.
In December 2018, the government announced that 21 KSRTC bus stands would have ramps and wheelchairs for the disabled. These facilities were implemented after the apex court directed the states in 2017 to make government buses friendly for differently-abled passengers.
According to news reports, KSRTC had approached a Chennai firm to supply the material required for the infrastructure. Each ramp is priced at Rs 31,000.