South Korea's Commitment to Expanding Public Transportation to Disabled Riders13 July 2018
Around the world, cities and countries are working hard to make transportation accessible to the disabled. This is very apparent in South Korea, where a number of steps are being taken to ensure everyone can get where they need to go, no matter their abilities.
From buses to subways, almost all transportation options in this country are accessible to everyone. This is a huge achievement and one that should definitely be celebrated. After all, everyone deserves the ability to get where they’re going in life and accessible public transportation helps make that possible.
So what is it that puts South Korea ahead of the curve in this respect? Here are 6 ways they’re making an impact.
Wheelchair-Accessible Trains, Subways, and Buses
Traditional train cars, subway cars, and buses are difficult or even impossible for those in wheelchairs to access. Buses are much too high up and often require riders to climb stairs. Meanwhile, traditional train and subway cars tend to leave cracks between the platform and the car, meaning wheels can easily become stuck, causing very hazardous situations.
South Korea has taken steps to solve these problems. To begin with, they have introduced train and subway cars that are nearly flush with the platform, meaning wheelchairs can easily roll on and off.
As a solution for disabled bus riders, the country has put out buses with lowered floors, wheelchair ramps, and securement areas with straps and tie-downs. Currently, about 33% of the buses in the capitol city of Seoul are equipped with these features. However, the city aims to bring this number up to 50% by the year 2020.
Braille Signage and LCD Screens
Braille signage is available in many places throughout South Korea. For instance, Braille is available in a number of subway stations in Seoul. This makes travel much more feasible for blind individuals.
For those travelers who are hard of hearing, LCD screens are easily viewable in all subway trains throughout the country. These provide stop information, making it easy for passengers to know where to go, no matter how well they hear.
Culturally, South Korea public transportation passengers are expected to give up seats to disabled, elderly, and pregnant individuals. However, in order to ensure those who truly need a seat are able to find one, the subway offers special cars that are reserved for these riders.
Besides these special subway cars, the South Korean city of Busan has also introduced the "Pink Light Campaign." This system alerts passengers of pregnant women so they can be sure to offer the expectant mother a seat.
Lifts and Elevators
Clearly, stairs are a serious challenge for those in wheelchairs and can also make things more difficult for those with little to no sight. Fortunately, nearly all of South Korea’s train and subway stations offer elevators or wheelchair lifts in order to ensure all passengers can reach their destination.
One of the neatest services for the disabled found in South Korea are the disabled transport shuttles. These vehicles are equipped with electric ramps and tie-down straps. Best of all, using the shuttle is completely free. While the dependability of this shuttle service could stand to be improved, special transportation like this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Clearly, getting around South Korea is perfectly possible for those of varying abilities. However, the country takes this a bit further by making plane travel possible as well.
Many of South Korea’s airports offer special services to the disabled. These may include escort services, assistance with general procedures, and even an electric baggage cart option for those with mobility concerns.
While South Korea is not perfect, they are taking some great strides toward offering accessibility to all people. This is truly wonderful to see and something we hope will continue in the future.
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