Kelly in the Media

Concerns about O’Bahn tunnel evacuation in event of emergency

ABC Radio | Ali Clarke

Ali Clarke: With regards to due care, Kelly Vincent, Dignity MLC has actually called in.
Good morning. You have some worries about effects on wheelchair users in the new O’Bahn.

Kelly Vincent: That’s right. I’m particularly concerned about what might happen if there’s an emergency while in the tunnel and an evacuation has to occur. Now my understanding from talking to people in the community as well as former drivers is that a driver may have to ask for assistance from a passenger to help someone in a wheelchair get out of their wheelchair [unclear], because there may not be ramps available. I’m also concerned that the tunnel might not be wide enough to allow it to occur safely. Now I do want to say that I’ll be meeting with the Minister later today and raising this but I’d love it if he could respond to these respond to those concerns that I know he’s already aware about.

Ali Clarke: So then Minister Mullighan, evacuation of people with wheelchairs. Is the tunnel wide enough to allow that to happen?

Stephen Mullighan: Yes it is, the tunnel is wide enough, certainly to allow a bus to lower its ramp and for a wheelchair to exit the side of the bus into the walkways either side of the tunnel. But there will be some instances where either somebody in a wheelchair, somebody who might have a mobility impairment or somebody who is just incapacitated for another reason does need assistance getting off a public transport vehicle. It might be a train stuck between stations, it might be an O’Bahn bus somewhere on the dedicated bus way between Gilberton and the Paradise interchange or it might be in this tunnel and we’ve done extensive live testing of all of these different circumstances. We’ve got a fast response time from of course the MFS station which is only about 1200 metres away, so…

Ali Clarke: So – but will drivers – pardon but we’re getting to the news, will drivers actually be in the situation where they might have to carry a wheelchair user?

Stephen Mullighan: That’s certainly possible, that’s right. And that’s why we’ve got the emergency testing and response times so quick that if somebody does need to provide assistance we’ve got the MFS that can get there very, very quickly. They’re only about 1200 metres away at Wakefield Street.

Ali Clarke: Have drivers signed up for that though? I mean when you become a bus driver is this an expectation? Or is this something new for them to get their head around with the new O’Bahn tunnel.

Stephen Mullighan: Whether it’s bus drivers operating these O’Bahn services, whether they’re elsewhere on the network, whether they’re train drivers or tram drivers, it’s an expectation of all public transport drivers that if necessary they will need to render assistance, whether it’s to some people whether it’s to disabled people, whether it’s to people who find themselves incapacitated because of an accident. That’s just part of the role and part of the information that we’ve been telling bus drivers is, how the tunnel functions, what the services are and what they need to do in the case of an emergency.

Ali Clarke: So that’s why there’s been a particular circular on this instance.

Stephen Mullighan: Yes, that’s right. I mean we need to –

Ali Clarke: To the drivers.

Stephen Mullighan: … we need to make sure that all bus drivers are familiar with how the tunnel operates, where the exits are and what the procedures are in the case of an emergency.

Ali Clarke: Okay, we do have to leave it there, enjoy your party on Sunday, Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan.