Kelly in the Media

Disability safety fear for O-Bahn bus tunnel

Adam Langenberg | Adelaide Advertiser

Wheelchair users may not be able to be evacuated quickly from buses in the new O-Bahn tunnel through the parklands, a document reveals, sparking calls for the Government to overhaul its safety features.

A notice circulated to bus drivers, obtained by The Advertiser, says they will need to seek assistance to carry a passenger from the bus if their wheelchair is “too big”.

It says drivers should carry them to an emergency walkway, then through an emergency door and wait for assistance at a stairwell.

The problem identified by disability advocates is the narrow gap between the bus lanes and the tunnel walls.

Dignity Party MP Kelly Vincent said she had “serious concerns about whether the new tunnel is ready for use”.

“An O-Bahn bus recently caught fire in the city, so it is clear we need clear planning now before an even more dangerous situation arises,” she said. ”

With the tunnel being as narrow as it currently is planned to be, there are legitimate questions about the safety risk to disabled people should an emergency happen while the bus is inside the tunnel.”

The document says a wheelchair user will sometimes need to “cross the track” to get to the emergency walkway.

Despite the document, Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said the tunnel provided “adequate space for wheelchair ramps to be lowered, allowing access to exits in an emergency”.

He said there were already situations where wheelchair users needed help to disembark, such as when a train breaks down between stations.

Ms Vincent said the tunnel footpath looked to be the same width as the “wheelchair inaccessible” City South tram stop.

She said if the tunnel had the same inaccessibility problem, it must be immediately rectified.