Ministry to address access for disabled
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Ministry to address access for disabled

The Transport Ministry has established a committee with representatives from disabled individual rights activist groups to improve accessibility standards on public transport, the minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Tuesday.

He said the committee, headed by Vice Minister for Transport Teerapong Rodprasert, will regularly hold talks to ensure efforts to bolster accessibility to all modes of transport are "thoroughly carried out".

The committee is set to hold its first official meeting next Monday.

"It's apparent that there have been efforts to improve the overall situation for disabled individuals, some of which have been followed through with, and others which have been repeatedly delayed," Mr Arkhom said.

"The first order of business will be how to improve accessibility to electric train lines, starting with those under the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand [MRTA], since the BTS Skytrain is currently under the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's [BMA] supervision."

No specific deadline has been decided for accessibility improvements for the disabled as of yet.

Manit Intharapim, a wheelchair-bound rights activist who last week punched and broke a locked glass door in front of an elevator at the BTS Asok station, said he will be one of the regular attendees at the committee's future meetings.

"There are several problems which have yet to be addressed, and this is why we regularly come to the Transport Ministry to talk directly with officials," he said. "The ministry has been helping on a policy-based level, but what we want is tangible changes, with clearly-specified deadlines."

Mr Manit, 50, said the ministry's proposed strategy to tackle the MRTA's services is a "good start", citing several station exits still lack exit gates for wheelchair-bound individuals.

An official statement released by the Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc (BTSC) two nights after Mr Manit broke the lift's glass door said the company would not press any charges against him.

The statement also read that all of its 36 stations -- including the Sukhumvit Line's 23 and the Silom Line's 13 stations -- have elevators built in them. Saphan Taksin and Sala Daeng stations, however, lack ground-floor lifts, and currently only have lifts leading to their platforms.

According to the statement, only four stations have specialised lifts for disabled individuals.

Meanwhile, the BMA has threatened to terminate concession contracts with the BTSC, after a step on an escalator at Phaya Thai station suddenly gave way on Monday.

According to Thanoochai Hoonniwat, chief of the BMA's Traffic and Transport Department, no injuries were reported after the incident.

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