Hurdles to cross

Hurdles to cross

Hurdles to cross

There is an exponential increase in the number of Bengalureans using the Metro after the completion of Phase 1 of the Bengaluru Metro Rail. The surge in the crowds, however, has created huge problems for commuters, especially those with disabilities.

While some of the differently-abled are lucky to be offered seats, others, especially the visually impaired, say that they are forced to hold on to the metal railings and hang in there till they reach their destination.

Sailesh, a service request administrator with Cisco Systems, has only 10 percent vision. He uses the Metro almost everyday.

Sharing his experience, Sailesh says, “Sometimes, I get help from fellow commuters, but the days I don’t, I find it difficult to move around the Metro station. I have blurred vision and can’t see the objects in front of me very clearly. So getting past the ticket counter and into the train is a big challenge for me.”

When asked if he gets a seat, Sailesh says, “It is very rare that someone gets up to offer me a seat. I hold on to the railing to keep my balance. I also find it difficult to get into the train nowadays because people tend to push. I am always at the risk of falling.”

While the facilities within the Metro stations and along the route leading to the train are disabled-friendly, finding a place to sit in the train is a challenge, say most people with disability. Ajith Babu has cerebral palsy but he doesn’t move around on crutches.

He travels from Baiyappanahalli to his workplace on Mysuru Road everyday. He says that he doesn’t find a seat but feels awkward to ask people.

“There are days when I am really tired but people don’t oblige and offer their seats. Getting in and out of the train is a nightmarish experience,” says Ajith.

He feels that those who travel by the Metro ought to be more courteous towards people with disabilities.

There are a few like Sohan R Telsang, affected with cerebral palsy, who feel that the Metro train must be extended to include a special bogie exclusively for women and the differently-abled.

“I have been fortunate to get assistance from the Metro staff who always help with a wheelchair and assist me with getting into the train. A separate compartment for the differently-abled would be helpful,” he says.

Regular Metro commuters like Johny Pathrose, an advertising professional, says that he has seen people gather and keep luggage at places earmarked for the differently-abled.

“It is impossible to find a place to sit or even stand comfortably in the Metro during peak hours. I’ve sometimes seen the differently-abled stand throughout their travel, without getting a seat,”
says Johny.

A senior official with BMRCL informs that all the Metro stations have been designed to be disabled-friendly.

“There are ramps provided with handrails from the road level for all entry points, to aid people with disability. The lifts, located at the ground level, have Braille key buttons and wheelchairs are kept at all the stations on the ground level and also at the platform level,” says the official. He also points out that for the visually impaired, tactile flooring has been used internally throughout the station.

The Metro staff, he says, has been trained in sign language to assist people with disabilities.

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