City’s big bus stations disabled-unfriendly

City’s big bus stations disabled-unfriendly

Both wheelchairs at Shivajinagar are broken. One has a missing wheel, while the other is a plastic chair mounted on a rusty frame.

DH Metrolife visited the Shivajinagar, Majestic (KSRTC and BMTC) and Shantinagar bus stations, and found people with physical disability facing extreme difficulty

 

SHIVAJINAGAR

All broken

It has no ramps for wheelchairs, and in one place, what could serve as a ramp has been dug up. “That is to allow rainwater to flow,” said Venkataram, assistant traffic superintendent.

Two wheelchairs can be spotted. One has a missing wheel the other, shockingly, is a plastic chair mounted on a rusted steel frame. About the first wheelchair, he says, “It is broken but can still be used. You just have to tilt the wheel a bit and make sure you don’t lose balance.”

The plastic chair, he says, is usable too.

Mohammed Akram, a physically challenged mechanic, lives in Hebbal and takes a bus from Shivajinagar every day.

“The biggest challenge here is to use the toilet. It is difficult for me to access the public toilet because it has stairs and I can’t climb. The toilet for the differently abled is never open,” he told Metrolife.

Locked toilet

A board reads ‘Physically challenged wheelchair and toilet. When you follow directions, you find a locked toilet. While regular toilets have signboards, the one meant for the physically challenged has none.

“We usually don’t have anybody asking us to use the facility, so we keep it locked,” the official says. “We hope to get a signboard painted soon.”

Metrolife asked for the toilet to be opened. It was dirty, with dust and dirt all over, a broken toilet seat and a leaking health faucet. The space also doubles up as a store for old paint buckets and iron frames.

Venkataraman urgently got the staff to clean the toilet. “We haven’t had the time to get the cleaning done,” he said, with a sheepish smile.

 

MAJESTIC

BMTC

Ask the doc

This sprawling Kempegowda bus station (Majestic) has no ramps or functional wheelchairs. A helpful BMTC traffic inspector offered help to borrow one from the BBMP Transit Clinic nearby. “The only wheelchair we have is broken and we haven’t bought one of our own after that,” he explained.

The clinic usually doesn’t lend it out, but the inspector was extremely helpful. “I will stand guarantee for the wheelchair till you return it,” he said.

We walked up to the clinic. A senior doctor said, “We have only one wheelchair for our patients and we can’t lend it out. What if it isn’t returned?”

 

KSRTC
Biggest in state

The state’s biggest bus station has two ramps, leading up to men’s and women’s toilets. It has two wheelchairs. KSRTC traffic inspectors keep an eye on one. When this reporter said her mother needed a wheelchair to come into the bus station, a lady traffic inspector asked her to leave her phone as security.

“Wheelchairs have been borrowed and stolen in the past. That’s why we ask for a phone or a watch from people who ask us for one,” the inspector said. She says the bus station gets four or five requests to use wheelchairs in a month. A wheelchair at another gate, facing the BMTC bus station, is chained. “We are short-staffed to watch over it,” the inspector says.

 

Mahesh, a Braille teacher, takes a bus to Banashankari from in Majestic. “I travel alone and there’s no help at hand when I reach here. Getting from one platform to another, without being mowed down by a bus, is a challenge,” he says. He has fallen several times, trying to get on to the platforms.

SHANTINAGAR

This is a big, busy terminus, with city buses passing through it, and buses headed towards Chennai and Tamil Nadu starting and terminating here. It has no wheelchairs and no signage to help the physically challenged.

At the BMTC and KSRTC reception counters, this reporter was told no wheelchair was available.

A traffic inspector at the BMTC depot said, “We have never got requests for a wheelchair. You are the first person asking for one.”

Toilet as store
While the toilets for women and women are maintained well, a space meant for the differently abled is used to keep beds and luggage. “We lock it to keep our bags and luggage. The toilet for the disabled has never been used,” said the boy who collects a fee for the regular pay-and-use toilets.

Suresh Rao, a differently abled garment worker, travels every day from Hebbal to his unit in Jayanagar. “I dread coming here because it has no amenities for people like us. It is difficult to use the regular toilet,” he says.

Essential amenities

C Reuban Daniel, assistant director, Association of People with Disability, says amenities at bus stations are far from satisfactory. He lists out what people with disability want:

Bus stops and stations with access ramps. 
Less crowded exit and entry points.
Tactile pathways to guide the visually challenged to buses.
Toilets with suitably strong grab bars.
Turning space in toilets for wheelchair.
Anti-skid floor tiles inside toilets.

Will find out: BMTC MD

BMTC Managing Director
V Ponnuraj, says, “We try our best. Our air-conditioned Vajra buses have a provision for wheelchairs to be brought in. Other BMTC buses don’t.” When told about the lack of amenities for the disabled at the city’s bus stations, Ponnuraj said he would check and get back.

 

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