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Indian traffic system inching towards disabled-friendliness

DNIS Network News - Traffic design in Indian cities may soon witness a new approach - sensitivity to the needs of differently abled users.

The bus has a ramp so that wheelchairs can be rolled in, and can also be locked in place.

The capital will soon witness a new approach in traffic design - sensitivity to the needs of differently abled users. Delhi has two disabled-friendly buses, included in the fleet of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), plying on its roads. These buses are part of the High Capacity Bus System (HCBS) and are built on the principles of universal design.

"We have tried to keep in mind all kinds of people while designing this system," says Geetam Tiwari, Associate Professor in the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme (TRIPP) of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, who has been closely associated with HCBS. "The wheelchair user, the elderly suffering from arthritis and poor eyesight, the mother with her baby in one arm and a bag in the other, school children with their knapsacks and water bottles and the visually challenged with their canes." (See Interview titled "We want our transport system to be defined in just one word: Inclusive" in this issue for more details about the HCBS.)

The buses have a low floor and door frames are wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through. The first step of the bus is very low to allow an easy climb. The floor of the bus and the ground at the bus stop would be at one level when the bus halts for passengers. Wheelchair users can easily roll into the bus and can then use the ramp, along the stairs, to enter the main aisle.

The bus contains removable seats, in whose place wheelchairs would be clamped. Bus stops would be made of tactile flooring for the visually challenged. Buses will also carry additional ramps, for the benefit of wheelchair users, in cases where the bus cannot stop alongside the stop.

DTC managers have committed themselves to putting eight more such buses on Delhi roads by the end of 2005 and have stated that all DTC buses will be disabled friendly by the year 2010. Several other cities have shown interest in this system. Hyderabad and Bangalore are amongst those who are considering the High Capacity Bus System very seriously.

Chennai is also implementing disabled-friendly facilities. The city will soon have audio traffic signals for the visually impaired. This was revealed by R Natraj, the city's Police Commissioner.