Urban design options for a more accessible tram system

2017-02-15T23:34:22Z (GMT) by Macdonald, Andrea
Melbourne's tram system is one of the largest in the world yet access is difficult for many passengers, particularly those using wheelchairs and scooters, and with prams, luggage and shopping. The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 and Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT) 2002 have imposed access requirements with mandatory timeframes to 2022 for infrastructure and 2030 for conveyances, adding legal pressure to develop a more accessible tram network. Progress upgrading stops to platforms has been slow and variable and this research seeks ways to improve infrastructure design outcomes for full accessibility. It identifies key access issues and standards, and evaluates the range of platform stop designs established in Melbourne. It investigates solutions elsewhere as the recent expansion of new light rail systems in Europe with similar disability legislation provides scope to analyse emerging trends. It confirms that level access from a platform tram stop to a low floor tram remains the prevailing solution universally and derive design principles for infrastructure. The research identifies consistent space standards for the Melbourne stop design types and develops standard footprints. It identifies fixed design constraints limiting the application of each type and variable constraints determining design outcomes where several options fit spatially. It highlights that planning for a fully accessible system is more complex than matching stop types to existing road widths and may warrant a new approach to the design of tram streets. The research also identifies that improving accessibility delivers additional benefits to passenger service, access to public transport and liveability of the city. The key research findings and tools are summarised in a Design Guideline. The challenge of improving access to Melbourne's tram system may be assisted by applying the design solutions, trends and tools identified in the research.