I'll have to disagree with you here.
Mr OC Benz wrote:I think they'd need to toughen their stance on wheelchair ramp deployment (they are automated in Perth) too, as it regularly holds up services (even CATs) when it is constantly deployed for prams, buggies etc.
It seems pointless to have an accessible bus, by limiting access (no pun) to that bus using one of it's devices that makes it accessible (say that lot 3 times quickly!), defeats the purpose of having the bus in the first place. Can you imagine the hold ups if we went back to pram hooks? With the Scania DAB's we used to have on the CATs, the ramp was of the Armstrong variety i.e. the driver had to get out of the seat and deploy it manually.
Accessible buses are not just for wheelchairs - they are there for anyone who has an access/mobility issue.
I don't see it as pointless and I'm solely referring to the use of the wheelchair ramp, not the overall added functions of an accessible bus. Accessible buses have a kneeling function too, which is equally important and useful, but with less time consumed with no ramp being deployed. For the most part, almost anyone who isn't in a wheelchair, should be capable of getting onto the bus with the kneeling function alone (as practiced everywhere else in the world that low entry/floor buses exist). I highly doubt that there are more less-abled people per capita in Perth than anywhere else to warrant such excessive use of the wheelchair ramp.
Fair enough for those who need extra assistance, but for those who adopt the lazy approach, It's incredibly inconvenient and inconsiderate to the rest of the passengers on board when a bus needs to run to a schedule and connections to be made. This in turn has now led to a culture of drivers just deploying the ramp regardless of whether an intending passenger needs it or not.
It's a bad practice to get into, and when timetable efficiency becomes a more critical issue in the future, particularly on busy routes, it's going to be extremely hard for passengers to back away from the culture (or lazy attitude) that has developed from the use of the wheelchair ramp. I can pretty much guarantee that none of this would've ever occurred had the buses been fitted with manual ramps. You'd certainly not see drivers getting out of their seat to put the ramp out every time someone with a pram wants to get on! Or better still, if the ramps were fitted to the centre door, it would've been better for everyone, especially people in wheelchairs, rather than the current situation of having to make several turns and battle between the wheel-arches in order to be safely secured.
In any other city (even in Australia), most passengers with prams would generally not be considered to have an access/mobility issue and thus lowering the bus would be sufficient without the need for the wheelchair ramp to be deployed. And in some cities, the buses are configured to automatically lower at bus stops, reducing stop dwell time.