Which Factors Limit or Favour the Implementation of the Policy for Accessible Collective Transport? First Elements from a Comparative Analysis Between Lyon and Stuttgart Policies
E Heyrman, C Marin-Lamellet, C Soulas, A Alauzet, INRETS, FR
This paper presents the results of a research study, which aimed at revealing the social, legal, administrative, historical and technical factors which impact ? in a positive or negative manner ? on the accessibility transport policy.
Accessibility to people with disabilities and people with reduced mobility is set on the agenda of several international institutions such as ECMT, the UN, the Council of Europe and the European Union. Numerous European countries have released national legislations. These legislations aim at creating a fully integrated transport system. There can be two different levels of legislations: anti-discrimination laws or more specific technical legislations, which show how this equality can be achieved in practice. The acuteness of accessibility issue will remain high because of the population ageing.
In 2002 the former President of the French Republic decided to enhance the French policy in favour of people with disabilities made in 1975. Policy makers wondered why the 1975-law was quite ineffective and why its outcomes were quite unsatisfactory.
The French Ministry of Transport granted INRETS to analyse and clarify the social, administrative, legal and technical mechanisms which contribute (in a positive or a negative way) to the full accessibility of the travel chain.
This objective demanded to study the accessibility policy and to analyse ?at both local and national levels ? the factors which impact the decisions of local policy makers and which influence the practices.
The field of this research was focused on the collective transport systems and on the travel chains including several systems of collective transport.
In order to determine the specificity of the national practices and to reveal cultural features, we chose to carry out a comparative approach. Two local accessibility policies were studied: those of Lyon (in France) and of Stuttgart (in Germany). Both Lyon and Stuttgart are European metropolis where various technological solutions are implemented (buses, light rail systems, subways, suburban coaches, regional railway system).
Our research materials stem from complementary sources, namely from legal and administrative texts which define national or local policies, from semi-structured interviews of local policy makers and operators and from direct observations.
This research study was conducted between 2004 and 2007.
The observations and analysis showed that both in Lyon and in Stuttgart the ?accessibility? public problem has been set of the institutional agenda of the transport authorities. The examination of the situations of Lyon and Stuttgart highlights differences between the two transport networks but also similarities. Accessibility can be thought as a public problem under the influence of various requirements and constraints.
The paper will focus on a few factors, which will be illustrated by examples.
- The policy objectives. Germany has enforced several laws to have a transport system accessible to people with disabilities. In France the law n°75-534 led the French policy to distinguish two different population categories and two accessibility solutions.
- The policy instruments. The accessibility requirements were specified by standards and technical recommendations in France and by regulations in Germany. These instruments do not put the same pressure on local policy makers and on transport operators. Fiscal and economic instruments were also studied.
- Accessibility and ?path of dependency?: the current options of local policy makers are often restricted by past decisions. We took into light this factor in Lyon and in Stuttgart. Local Stuttgart policy makers decided to couple high-floor vehicles of Stadtbahn with high-level platforms (900-mm-height). In Lyon, the transport authority has difficulties in adapting its underground since it decided that wheelchair users were not welcome in 1970?s.
- The sensitivity of public authorities for innovating and testing new solutions. Tactile walking surface indicators for blind or partially sighted people are a good object to study this factor.
- A decision making process under the supervision of people with disabilities. Both in Lyon and Stuttgart associations of/for people with disabilities are consulted by transport authorities. However clusters of associations of/for people with disabilities do not co-make local policies with transport authorities.
- A different meaning of accessibility. The technical solutions implemented in Lyon and Stuttgart to help wheelchair users to board the bus ? i.e. electric ramps and manual ramps respectively ? underpin a differing meaning of accessibility: a ?public problem? versus a ?collective problem?.
Association for European Transport