Have we Missed the Bus?

What am I supposed to say? I have been trying for four months now to get the procedures for transport for persons with disabilities from various sources, and just as I think I have them, they are changed!

So here’s the latest, BUT I cannot guarantee that these will be what will get you to the stadia on match day. We have been told that there will be a cordon around each stadium and that only specific vehicles will be able to get through. Tour operators and transport companies were supposed to apply for a 96 day permit and use this to get through the cordon, but now MATCH has said that they will be issuing the permit to the person purchasing the ticket who requires the special parking. That means that you have to be present to collect your tickets.

MATCH has a special needs section on their website and they have asked that each person who has specials needs should write to them and they will then deal with each request on an individual basis.

Right so, let us say that you now have your ticket and your permit, how are you going to get to the various matches if you are a visitor?There are all the standard ways – taxi, bus, train, car or tour guide but which of these will be accessible?

TAXI

In South Africa there are many private taxi companies who operate within the urban areas, but there is only one company, SA CAB who run London style taxis that are accessible for a person in a wheelchair.

The other companies will assist, and will cater for your needs by sending larger vehicles to accommodate the carrying of wheelchairs, but you need to order these services at least 48 hours in advance.

NB:

Minibus Taxis – will not stop for, or take on, persons in wheelchairs and, if by some fluke you domanage to convince one to stop, they will charge you at least triple the standard fare.

CAR HIRE

Some of our car hire companies have vehicles with hand controls fitted, but again you need to order these at least 72 hours in advance so that they are in the city of your choice.

Please note that the hand controls are not fitted to the cheapest cars. If you are an overseas traveller, you will need to bring your valid driver’s licence, if it is printed in English, otherwise you will need to get an International Drivers licence.

There are chauffeur driven options available as well. Budget and Avis both have adapted buses, which have a wheelchair hoist, but the rental of these vehicles is quite costly.

BUS

At this point, the only accessible bus system in the country services the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. The BRT system in Johannesburg was meant to be up and running from Soweto to Johannesburg, but is still fraught with practical problems at the stations and is somewhat iffy what with all the minibus taxi boycotts and violence.

TRAINS

We are waiting patiently to see if the Gautrain will be running from the airport to Sandton, but as yet we haven’t had confirmation. This would be the only rail system that would be accessible. The trains currently servicing the country use a narrow gauge railway line, and therefore the configuration is such that the corridors and seating are not accessible for wheelchair users. This includes luxury trains like the Blue Train and Rovos Rail.

TOUR GUIDES

There are many tour guides in the bigger cities who profess to be able to assist with persons with disabilities, but in actual fact, there are a handful who have the facilities and know-how to do so. Make careful plans and ask relevant questions before choosing an operator. When in doubt, contact a local disability organisation and check the operator out with them.

DISABILITY ORGANISATIONS

As 2010 loomed closer, and the dismal failure to deliver on the promised Public Transport Systems became apparent, various disability organisations rallied round in order to make their accessible transport, buses with hoists and ramps, available forthe transport of persons with disabilities throughout the 2010 World Cup. Some associations are negotiating with local municipalities and the 2010 Local Organising Committee to integrate their vehicles into local transport systems, but most are just going to make their vehicles available to persons with disabilities.

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