72% of disabled people in Russia never leave home for lack of accessible transport
The standards and practical measures incorporated into the Accessible Environment programme are not being implemented or they are failing to meet all the needs of disabled people in many regions of Russia, according to speakers joining a round-table discussion at the Public Chamber (OP) of the Russian Federation on 17 October.
The Press Office of the Public Chamber reported that the issue of the quality of local transport was raised during the discussion, including the problem of social taxis, which need to be improved if disabled people are to be able to socialise.
“Disabled people are superhumans. They need superpowers for all sorts of activities; to use a taxi they need to book it two weeks in advance, and to catch a bus they have to mount high kerbs and attempt to board buses that often stop a long way from the actual bus-stop,” said Mikhail Kisilev, himself disabled (category one) and Vice Chairman of the Chamber’s Commission on Social Policy, Industrial Relations, Union Negotiations and Support for Veterans.
Across the country as a whole only 8% of category 1 and 2 disabled people have used social taxis over the past year, Natalya Moskalkova reported as Associate Professor of Work and Social Policy at the Russian Presidential Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA). The price of a taxi across the regions ranges from 5 to 110 roubles per kilometre and a large proportion of the taxis are not even equipped to carry disabled people.
As the statistics show, the majority of disabled people (72%) are forced to stay at home due to the problem of inaccessible public transport. Even in the major cities like Moscow and St Petersburg there are only a handful of buses with ramps installed.
In an attempt to justify the small number of specially adapted vehicles, Kirill Senko, spokesman for the social transport service Mosgortrans said, “Not everyone is interested in bidding for the business, regardless of the opportunity to make money because it is very expensive to fit a ramp to a car”.
In summing up the round-table discussions Mikhail Kisilev noted that the transport system has to be developed and the needs and interests of disabled people should be taken into consideration.