Wednesday 20 December 2017

There willbe no train service

for three days next week.
I was startled to get a message in my blog comments from someone in the Department of Transport, Planning and Infrastructure asking me to contact him about this. He had tried to send an email. It had bounced. I can only assume he  had been monitoring the comments on another site relating to the proposed permanent closure of another station.
Well, it was nice of him to let me know. I genuinely appreciate that. It means I have to make other arrangements.
You see we are back to the old problem. It is a problem which seems to be beyond the ability of the transport people to solve. I have tried. The Equal Opportunity Commission has tried. Two members of parliament have tried. None of us have got anywhere.
If you can't access a bus they say then we will provide an Access Cab.  It sounds good until you realise that an Access Cab has to be booked in advance. During the line closure they are available only for "necessary" trips.  It does not allow for social outings - and yes, people do have social outings in the break over Christmas and New Year. There are emergencies. 
The Access Cab is also only permitted to take you from one station to another. That also sounds perfectly reasonable until you realise that the cab is going to take you further than you need to go. It might actually be going past your destination - literally past the door.
I tried to point this out to the transport people. If, as occasionally happens, I get a call from a hospital or a government department to provide some communication assistance for someone within the CBD I will normally put the trike on the train and go into the city that way.  If I used a taxi it would not need to go as far as the station. It would actually cost less. I could actually use it because I wouldn't need to try and get from the station to  my final destination.
And the other problem is that no, I don't know when I will need to leave again so I can't book an access cab for the return journey the day before. Things happen in hospitals, in the courts, in government departments. Delays are common. I can take work with me but I don't know when I am going to need to leave. Access Cabs are also notorious for keeping people waiting too - often for hours. It isn't the fault  of the drivers. There aren't enough to go around at peak times. I don't need an access vehicle if you do the sensible thing and drop me at the door - and provide me with a voucher to get back to my local railway station where I hope I can park the tricycle safely and not get it vandalised or stolen.
I know that, in a real emergency, someone else will pay for a taxi. Once they even diverted a non-urgent ambulance which was transporting an elderly man from one hospital to another. Fortunately he thought the whole thing was rather interesting. But, that's not the point. The point is that the problem could be solved with a bit of common sense and a small amount of flexibility. I will continue to make representations as I know I am not the only person who faces such problems but it shouldn't be necessary.
In the meantime I just hope I don't need to go anywhere - even if I'd like to. 



Momkatz said...

It's like falling down the rabbit hole, isn't it, Cat? The best of intentions often gets side-tracked by bureaucracy. And there aren't barely enough drivers. My Dad was a volunteer driver for the Red Cross, taking people to and from doctor's appointments. He volunteered one day a week. The Red Cross could have used him every day.
Big Sister Cat

Anonymous said...

The problem could be solved with a bit of common sense and a small amount of flexibility, but common sense and flexibility are in very short supply in all but the lowest level of government departments, and those people have no power or influence to get anything done.

Jodiebodie said...

I am glad you pointed these things out - issues which have plagued Access Cabs ever since they began. it is obvious that politicians and bureaucrats don't use public transport, don't plan to use it and consequently don't appreciate the value of it.
Ironically, I made this point at a Disability Forum back in the day when Disability reform was back on the political agenda. After the forum, me and another wheelchair using friend were still waiting for the taxi we ordered which hadn't shown up after more than an hour and three phone calls. We were waiting outside the convention centre - a major tourist destination in the city - and the taxi excuse was that they were unable to find us. Meanwhile, the ministerial advisers had finished taking their notes and packed up the forum and were walking past on their way to find some food. Here we were, exemplifying the very thing we were explaining in the forum. They themselves thought is was ridiculous so I hope they added that to their notes.
As for the Red Cross drivers - I have nothing but praise for them. The Red Cross volunteer driving service designed to help people like me get to important medical appointments was a real life saver for me as many of my specialists happened to be on the other side of the city. The distance made taxis too expensive to afford, even with government-issued subsidy vouchers. I just wish decision makers would bother to take the time to listen to the public and visit them and truly learn about "how the other half live" and maybe they could develop some compassion and empathy for others instead of worrying about how to keep their own seats warm.
Virtual Quilter's observations are so accurate, sadly.
Thank you Cat for being outspoken about issues that matter and for taking action. I truly hope something will change for the better and you will get a better deal but I'm not holding my breath for any of us. Then the political classes can't understand why members of the public are becoming disengaged with the political system - why bother when those of us who do try to engage get ignored and treated with contempt?