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Vic trams ‘possible breach disability legal guidelines’

Melbourne’s trams are likely breaching discrimination laws by failing to provide meaningful public transport access to Victorians living with disabilities.

That’s the finding of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, with a new report revealing only 38 per cent of the state’s tram fleet included low floors.

About 17 per cent of Victorians live with a disability.

Only 15 per cent of all tram services were “accessible in a meaningful sense for passengers with mobility restrictions” over 2018-19.

It was well below disability access targets established 18 years ago to have all tram infrastructure compliant by the end of 2022.

“Failure to meet these targets is likely to breach relevant legislation,” the report tabled in parliament on Thursday said.

“It also means that many people with mobility restrictions will continue to face practical and physical barriers when trying to access the tram network.”

The report found this put the Department of Transport and its Yarra Trams franchisee at risk of breaching disability discrimination laws and open to potential legal complaints.

Temporary exemptions issued by the Australian Human Rights Commission for Yarra Trams expired on September 30.

Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll conceded the government would not meet its legislated disability access requirements.

“Unfortunately it’s not achievable. We have a lot more work to do. They’re ambitious legislative requirements,” he told reporters.

“We’ve done about a third of the stops, We’ve increased our rolling stock from 50 to 100 low-floor trains.”

Victorian Greens MP Sam Hibbins said the Auditor-General’s findings were a slap in the face to people with mobility issues.

“What’s so disappointing is not just the state government’s failure to meet its legislated timelines, it’s the fact that they haven’t even tried,” he said.

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