The NSW Labor Opposition has forced the Berejiklian Government into an embarrassing back down on its plans to callously cut a transport hotline that would have left people with a disability and the elderly stranded.
Today in the State Parliament the NSW Labor Opposition revealed that the Government is canning the 131500 and 131 Opal lines imminently.
Briefing documents prepared by Transport for NSW clearly show the impending closure of both lines which are used extensively by travellers to get travel and timetable information as well as to top up their Opal cards (see attached).
In Question Time Acting Shadow Minister for Disability Services Kate Washington asked the Disability Services Minister Ray Williams the following question:
Over-the-phone services for trip planning advice and Opal top-ups are very important to people with a disability. What actions will you take to ensure these over-the-phone services continue to be available to people with a disability?
He knew nothing about it. It was left to a clearly embarrassed Transport Minister Andrew Constance to announce that the services would not be cut.
The Council for Intellectual Disability had raised the issue with Ms Washington recently because it had serious concerns that the move would greatly impact intellectually impaired people living in the state, and particularly those who don’t have a smartphone.
The CID also told Ms Washington that these members of the community also rely on Transport staff to talk them through the Opal top up process.
Quotes attributable to Acting Shadow Disability Services Minister Kate Washington
“Ray Williams has privatised all of the state’s disability services, and now he’s happy to sit back while his government builds even more barriers for people with disability.
“We need fewer barriers for people with disability, not more. This savage cut would have isolated thousands of people who won’t be able to use public transport because they can’t use an online app.
“The Berejiklian Government tried to make this sneaky cut with no regard whatsoever to the impact on people with disability. I am glad that the Government has been shamed into action and the service will remain.
“Labor will continue to hold the Berejiklian Government to account when it comes to disability services.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay
“When people are travelling on public transport they have an expectation that every member of the public
will have access to the service and that includes all the attendant services like phone lines.
“Universal access to public services means just that – people with a disability, older people or those from a non-English speaking background should not be excluded.
“Andrew Constance must keep his word and make sure that this service isn’t cut. Perhaps if he wasn’t spending so much on Sydney light rail he wouldn’t considered it in the first place.”