How do people with disabilities approach public transport in South Africa?

Transport Month: How do people with disabilities approach public transport in South Africa?

Eyewitness News spoke to people with disabilities about their experience with public transport.

Image Copyright: svershinsky/

JOHANNESBURG – October was declared Transport Month in 2005 during Transport Lekgotla.

According to Transportation Department, this month is used to raise awareness of the important role of transport in the economy and to encourage the participation of civil society and businesses, including the provision of a safe and affordable, accessible and reliable transport system in the country.

Unfortunately, accessible, suitable and affordable transportation for people of all disabilities continues to be a challenge and is one of the biggest barriers to their independence. Eyewitness News spoke to people with disabilities about their experience with public transport.

“People with disabilities should be subsidized to access email services, to make public transport actually work and be accessible for us. It is sad that in South Africa using a train which happens to be the cheapest mode of transport is not accessible to us due to the way they are structured and their location,” said Thato Mphuthi, founder of the NPO Enabled Enlightenment.

Following her experiences of growing up in a society that sought to break it because it was different, Mphuthi decided to start a non-profit organization, making her life’s work to help raise young disabled people and educate disability society.

Although Enabled Enlightenment, Mphuthi’s main objective is to create a sense of belonging and trust among people with disabilities.

READ: Enabled Enlightenment wins award for fighting disability discrimination

“I remember using a Rea Vaya [bus] which, when introduced, was intended to bridge the public transport gap. I liked the idea. The reality now is to deal with staff who are not trained to deal with people with disabilities, to deal with an audience that refuses to understand why I have to be at the front of the line and constantly have to fight to sit on the red chairs which are said to be “priority chairs”, be careful, no one will give you their chair because “we have all paid”. The fact that the system inside the bus that is there to make sure people in wheelchairs can get on the bus is still down is problematic,” Mphuthi said.

According Disability World, more than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability, representing around 15% of the world’s population, and this number is growing. The organization said the number of people living with disabilities is expected to double to two billion by 2050. 11.5%, of their lifetime to live with a disability. .

“At the moment the only transport I use are Uber and Bolt. Taking a public taxi terrifies me as I have heard countless stories of wheelchair users being injured (leg fractures) by drivers who have rushed paraplegics into the taxi. In some cases, people are required to pay for two people as the wheelchair would occupy a passenger seat as there is also no adequate storage for the chair,” said Sandile Mkhize, software designer and paraplegic who acquired his disability in 2013.

A study on Inclusive Planning: African Policy Inventory and South African Mobility Case Study on Disability Exclusion revealed that people with disabilities live less integrated and more isolated lives due to lack of recognition in transport policy and accommodation in infrastructure and services.

“I can’t get on public transport because I have to be picked up from my house and Uber is too expensive to use on a daily/weekly basis. I think what we need is ‘really thoughtful and subsidized accessible transportation,’ said Paralympian Toni Mould.

The athlete has cerebral palsy (CP) caused by complications during childbirth. This affects his balance, speech and motor skills.

READ MORE: South African cyclist Toni Mold looks back on her Paralympic Games journey

Comments are closed.