Accessibility in transport
The Federal Act on Equality for Persons with Disabilities (Bundes-Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz, abbr. BGStG) has been in force since 1 January 2006. No one may be directly or indirectly discriminated against on the grounds of disability.
The law provides that accessibility of conversions and new constructions in the entire public sector is also ensured, among others. This includes public transport and the traffic areas. Structural and other facilities, modes of transport, technical objects of utility, information processing systems and other designed areas of life shall only be considered accessible if they are accessible and usable for persons with disabilities in the usual manner, without particular difficulty and generally without outside help.
Accessibility of public space and public traffic areas is a basic prerequisite to be able to participate in social life for many people in Austria. Austria has therefore set itself the goal of achieving a leading position compared to other countries, in particular regarding accessibility in means of transport.
Public transport is an essential element for independent and sustainable mobility for every individual. There are, however, a great number of barriers in public transport that make use more difficult for many people and even impossible for some. Around 40 percent of the population are considered people with especially reduced mobility – these include, for example, people with a pram or a toddler holding their hand, people with heavy or bulky luggage, people with little knowledge of the location or little knowledge of the national language, elderly people, people with movement restrictions and people with disabilities. They all still encounter barriers much too often.
As a result of the constantly growing proportion of elderly people in the overall population, the number of people with age-related reduced mobility is also increasing. In future, even more people than before will therefore be particularly reliant on accessibility in transport services. Removing barriers in the infrastructure sector, the vehicle sector and as regards information or communication increases the quality of public transport and makes it more attractive for all passengers. The removal of barriers is absolutely essential for 10 percent of the population and necessary in a broader sense for 40 percent of the population, but accessibility is convenient for everyone.
Accessibility Task Force
The Federal Ministry established its own task force for accessibility in 2018. The rising number of elderly citizens and citizens with disabilities made it necessary to reorganise the topic of “accessibility in transport” at the Federal Ministry. This includes many different areas, such as access to means of transport such as rail, bus or plane and traffic areas e.g.: railway stations, airports; accessibility to information on the Internet; legal aspects and new transport concepts for the future.
The task force’s tasks have so far been spread across several departments at the Federal Ministry. Solutions for accessibility across transport modes are to be found with the task force.
In addition, the taks force is the point of contact
- for citizens’ enquiries;
- vis-à-vis the industry;
- in the context of international information exchange.
The inclusion of those affected and their organisations is of particular importance to find practical and user-friendly solutions together.