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Transport & Logistics

Social access begins at the bus stop

6 Nov 2014, by Informa Insights

Gail Le Bransky is Principal Manager, Accessible and Inclusive Transport | Efficiency and Effectiveness at Transport for NSW. She will be speaking at the inaugural Transport Accessibility and Connectivity conference in Sydney, 25-26 November in Sydney. This important event will explore the importance of effective access to public transport for all members of society. We sat down with Gail to talk about her experience and what we can expect from the conference. GAIL

Gail, can you please tell us a little bit about your professional background and the path to your current role?

I’ve worked on ageing and disability issues since the late 1980s, starting my public sector career in the Office for Ageing.  In that time I’ve witnessed a significant shift from a welfare and medical model of disability to a rights based paradigm.

I left the NSW Cabinet Office in 2003 to establish GML Social Research, a small consultancy specialising in human services. GML Social Research worked extensively with local councils, NSW Government agencies and private businesses on a wide range of social inclusion and community development projects.  Disability, carers and ageing issues were a key focus for the consultancy.

I joined Transport for NSW in August 2011, initially as a contractor to develop a Disability Action Plan for the Transport cluster.  The role has developed over time to cover a broad range of social inclusion issues.

What are the major challenges you have faced with regards to implementing accessible transport plans?

Three key challenges affect TfNSW’s capacity to implement accessible transport plans:

  • The extent of legacy infrastructure much is incompatible with independent accessible access
  • Limited resources and high costs associated with retrofitting
  • Prescriptive standards which are outmoded.

Is there a particular career highlight that you would like to tell us about?

I’ve had many, but I’m particularly proud of achieving a culture shift in TfNSW where accessibility is now considered core business.  Accessible transport is good now only for customers who depend on it, but also for older people, parents with prams, people with temporary injuries and travellers with luggage.  That covers around 40 per cent of our customers.  Accessibility upgrades now focus on how customers get to and from the station or bus interchange on foot, by car or from other modes of transport.  They also consider how the journey experience of customers of all abilities can be enhanced.

Are you able to give us a quick snapshot of what you will be talking about at TAC 2014?

I’ll be talking about the progress in accessible transport since the Standards were introduced in 2002, the challenges to implementation, the possibilities for innovation using technology and the importance of good customer service to overcome barriers in the physical environment.

To hear from Gail and a host of other expert speakers, book now for the Transport Accessibility and Connectivity conference in Sydney, 25-26 November.

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