Universal access on RRT

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Universal access on Rustenburg Rapid Transport

The Rustenburg Rapid Transport (RRT) system is bringing new and sleek buses to the city’s roads that cater for everyone’s needs.

The Yarona buses, as they are affectionately known, seek to accommodate the needs of able-bodied and disabled people alike, making public transport something the community can really identify with.

Yarona is a Setswana name loosely translated as “it’s ours” and that connotes a message that gives residents a stake in the new transport system.

As the world celebrated International Day of Persons Living with Disabilities on December 3, the Rustenburg local municipality set itself the goal of ensuring the city maintains its status of a progressive, people-centric metropolis by embracing a culture of urban planning, design and service delivery that promotes equality and inclusiveness.

The municipality said the objective was to deliver a city of equal opportunity to the tools of economic growth, one where all people feel safe, comfortable, respected and encouraged along the path to self-determination in the democratic space.

The provision of a universally accessible, safe, reliable, comfortable and affordable public transport system is at the heart of the municipality’s efforts to deliver a people-centred city for residents and visitors alike.

Member of the mayoral committee for transport and roads, Joyce Mashishi-Ntsime, said the disability month which ran from November 3 to December 3, ensured the municipality’s resolve to promote human and socio-economic rights of people living with disabilities, was further strengthened.

“This is a time when special focus and attention is directed at accelerating transformation and dealing with existing inequalities among persons living with disabilities through inclusive programmes.

“It is a period when the municipality comes together with its social partners and all stakeholders to take stock of the strides we are making as society to promote inclusiveness and equal access to public services and amenities.

“We re-dedicate ourselves to advancing the living conditions of persons living with a disability with a view to restore their dignity by promoting equality and self-reliance,” she said.

One of the most crucial factors is the availability of accessible, affordable, safe and reliable transport services.

“Safe, integrated transport empowers people, touches lives and connects families and communities.

“In the case of people with special needs, an effective transport system is vital to restoring their dignity as it caters for their mobility needs to connect with jobs, schools, shops, medical facilities, recreational amenities, friends and family,” Mashishi-Ntsime said.

The municipality is hard at work with the construction of a system that provides an integrated transport network of safer, faster, affordable and more efficient public transport.

Through Yarona, the city’s bus rapid transport (BRT) system will stimulate economic growth and ensure sustainable jobs and ensure universal access as one of its main pillars.

Throughout the design and implementation stages, it is the goal of the Rustenburg Rapid Transport Directorate, which administers Yarona, to enable all citizens to reach their destination safely, comfortably and with the least inconvenience. Acting RRT director Marks Rapoo said that throughout its design and implementation Yarona paidclose attention to the principles of universal access. Rapoo said that Yarona seeks to promote road safety through mutual respect and courtesy among all road users, be it drivers, pedestrians or cyclists.

“Provision has been made for special needs facilities including tactile paving for the blind, boarding bridges to ensure level boarding between stops, the stations and the bus, audible pedestrian crossings and safety features including lights and CCTV cameras.

“Yarona also has a way-finding system from and to stations and bus stops. Signage at stations which include pictograms and system maps (electronically lit or digitised) will be a prominent feature,” he said.

Additional features that will ensure universal access include station platforms and bus doors that are at the same level, multiple doors to ease congestion and the bus interiors come with a number of features designed for passengers living with disabilities.

Boarding and alighting the buses will be easy. Rapoo said the paving on the stations is wheelchair friendly.

They are also fitted with ramps and a width and gradient that conforms to international standards and guidelines.

For people with mobility challenges the ramps will have handrails on both sides and a landing area halfway up for those who want to rest.

“The ticket booths will feature window heights that have been adjusted to accommodate people in wheelchairs, while the booths have enough space for people in wheelchairs to work in them.

“The interior of the buses will also have dedicated wheelchair positions,” he said.

ELFAS TORERAI
elfast@thenewage.co.za

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