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equitable transportation

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  • Simon Norton
    Suppose we define a special transportation need as a need not possessed by the majority of the population. This is a significant concept, because if a
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2012
      Suppose we define a "special transportation need" as a need not possessed by the
      majority of the population.

      This is a significant concept, because if a transport system is to be viable and
      to have the potential to relieve traffic congestion then it must cater for the
      majority. That is why when most of the London Underground was built, it catered
      for the majority but not for wheelchair users.

      Nowadays we rightly want our transport system to cater for significant
      minorities as well. But there's no point in designing a transport system for
      them if it makes the route unable to fulfil its function for the majority. I
      once travelled on a rural bus route where the driver told me that his company
      had had to buy a new vehicle (with higher fuel consumption) to fulfil
      inclusivity requirements, and he also showed me where money had been spent to
      enable level boarding at a village bus stop -- a facility that had never been
      needed. Several years later the service was axed. What good was that to anyone ?

      I think it is generally accepted that 1 wheelchair space in a bus is equivalent
      to 5 spaces for people belonging to the majority. I presume this refers to
      standing space, but even a seat takes less space than a wheelchair because
      people don't need so much room to manoeuvre into it. I mention this in order to
      make the point that the need for seats by the majority is by no means equivalent
      to the need for wheelchair space, even though both are needs that the transport
      system should aim to meet.

      As for public announcements, they are certainly not a "special need" for hearing
      people, who managed quite well without them until recently. Wasn't one of the
      main driving forces behind their provision another minority class, people with
      restricted sight ?

      The issue of whether dignitaries have special needs is one that has long been
      controversial in London, where diplomats have claimed exemption from parking
      charges and the congestion charge, and now there is the question of bus lanes
      and pedestrian crossings being suspended so that Olympic officials and sponsors
      can whizz around in their supercars. My own opinion is that if diplomats want to
      use their cars they should have to pay for it, and having given a commitment to
      "green" the Olympics London should surely be entitled to ask officials and
      sponsors to find other means of getting around.

      Simon Norton
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