By Jennifer Parry, BCA’s representative on the Accessible Transport Advisory Committee (ATAC)

Through the Accessible Transport Advisory Committee (ATAC) I provide feedback on behalf of our members on all transport matters. There are opportunities for consultations about upcoming projects including the design of the upgrades to transport systems and infrastructure projects.

New Intercity Fleet Trains

These are new trains which will start rolling out on the electrified intercity network from December 2020. These services will run on the blue mountains line to Lithgow, the Central Coast Newcastle Line, and the South Coast line to Kiama. The blindness sector has provided a lot of input into the design to improve the accessibility of the trains.

Features include:

  • Braille and tactile signage
  • Power points and USB ports between each seat
  • Audio information and announcements
  • Good luminance contrast
  • A designated bike area in some of the carriages/cars
  • Stairs which are less steep and wider

The trains may be 4, 6 or 10 carriages long.

Changes to Operation

Carriage doors will need to be opened by pressing a button in the centre of the door. When the train arrives at a station, an audio beep for the door release will sound indicating which door can be opened to leave the train. It is important to note that a new safety feature is also on these trains which means that on some very short platforms where not all the train can fit on the platform, the system on the train prevents the doors opening in carriages where there is no platform to step onto.

When a train is due to depart, the driver can scan and has full view of the train and platform. There are CCTV cameras throughout the train. When you press the help point, this will connect to a central control centre. The control centre staff will have full audio and visual view of your physical location on board the train. The Customer Service Guard will also be alerted to the help point request. The help point can be used when needing assistance on the train, and can also be used in an emergency. If the Customer Service Guard is roaming, the help request alert will appear on their mobile device.

At a station, the Customer Service Guard has full CCTV view of the train and the platform from the cab. They will also roam through the train to where assistance is needed. The Customer Service Guard is in constant communication with the driver.

Free access to Sydney Transport with Aira

Until the end of the year, you can use Aira for up to 20 minutes an hour, anywhere on the Sydney Transport System, without it using any of your plan minutes. This offer also includes Aira assisting you with planning a route before you leave home.

This offer does not include doing personal tasks whilst in transit, like reading mail or a book. It also does not apply to ride share or other personal transportation.

The blindness sector is campaigning to have this promotion made permanent. We strongly encourage people to utilise this offer to show support and to demonstrate that there is a need for the service.

For those who do not know what Aira is, Aira Tech Corp is a technology company dedicated to making lives simpler, easier, and more fun. Based in San Diego, California, it uses the latest technologies to connect people who are blind or have low vision with real, highly trained professionals who provide visual information on demand. Aira has a free virtual assistance app, which can be used with android and IOS phones. This assistance is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

When you first contact Aira, you will be provided with some training and an introduction, answering any questions you may have. Aira also runs promotions and establishes partnerships with businesses.

For further information about Aira go to

If a person with an existing Aira account invites you to sign up there is a referral code. This process will give both the person signing up as well as the existing Aira account holder an extra 30 bonus minutes.

Information access

The blindness sector are working closely with Transport for NSW to ensure that information is inclusive and accessible. Earlier this year Transport for NSW put together their social distancing policy for traveling on public transport during COVID-19.

Direct input into this process ensured that an accessible communique was available to compliment the video demonstration of social distancing on public transport. Transport for NSW are currently reviewing their accessible documents policy and have requested feedback from the blindness sector.

Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme Smart Card

Transport NSW is replacing the paper taxi vouchers with a digital smart card. The blindness sector is providing direct feedback about the physical design and operation of the smart card. It is pleasing to note that a lot of the feedback has been taken on board.

The card’s features include:

  • A digital chip
  • A notch to indicate the orientation of the card
  • A photo
  • Embossed numbering
  • Contact information in the event the card is lost

An initial pilot is occurring in regional NSW.

Feedback or complaints about transport

For any transport issues or concerns, I strongly encourage people to contact Transport for NSW on 131 500, or through their online feedback form at

For issues with ride share (such as Uber) please contact the ride share provider directly.

For taxi complaints contact the taxi company directly.

Before making a complaint, make sure you document as much information as possible, including dates, times and taxi numbers for example.

Note: under the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport under the DDA, raised print Taxi numbers should be on the outside of all passenger doors forward of the door handle.

Information from Transport for NSW

The following points are based on information that has previously been communicated through the Accessible Transport Advisory Committee or through public documents such as the Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2019 – 2022.

  • Transport for NSW is committed to reducing and eliminating barriers to ensure that that everyone in NSW can access transport services
  • Engagement with organisations such as Blind Citizens Australia plays an important role in ensuring that the needs of customers are placed at the centre of planning and decision-making for the transport system
  • The Transport for NSW forum with the disability and ageing sector in New South Wales is the Accessible Transport Advisory Committee
  • This committee includes representatives such as Blind Citizens Australia who provide expert guidance on access and inclusion to Transport for NSW
  • Blind Citizens Australia continues to be a valued member of this Committee through providing feedback to our organisation, and highlighting potentially barriers in accessing the transport network on behalf of its members
  • In 2020, the Committee has engaged and provided feedback on numerous projects and programs including the New Intercity Fleet project, the Ferry Program, the Redfern Station Project, the Parramatta Light Rail and the digitisation of the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme
  • Future Transport 2056 is our 40 year vision for a modern and connected roads and public transport network
  • Accessibility remains a core outcome area of this strategy and is supported by the Transport for NSW Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2018-2022 and the 10 Year Blueprint
  • The Plan includes over 160 actions and is our commitment to reducing and eliminating the barriers people face in accessing public transport
  • Key projects such as the Transport Access Program continue to provide upgrades and improvements to infrastructure across the existing transport network to make services more accessible
  • The NSW Government has invested more than $2 billion in the Transport Access Program since 2011 and a total of $969 million has been allocated over the next four financial years for upgrades to metropolitan and regional train stations, and ferry wharves
  • A copy of the plan can be accessed
  • If there are any questions, Transport for NSW will work with Blind Citizen Australia following the forum to provide a response
  • Again, Transport for NSW would like to thank Blind Citizens Australia for their proactive and continued engagement with our Accessible Transport Advisory Committee, and is looking forward to continuing to collaboratively work together in 2021.

If you have any suggestions or feedback related to transport, contact BCA on 1800 033 660 or