Ljubljana was ranked among the eight best and won special European Commission mention for increased accessibility in the fields of transport and related infrastructure.
To mark the European Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is observed on 3 December, for the second consecutive year the European Commission in Brussels has bestowed awards Access City Award 2012 (www.accesscityaward.eu) to the cities that are most accessible for people with disabilities. In a competition entered by 114 cities from 23 European countries, Ljubljana was ranked among the eight best and won special European Commission mention for increased accessibility in the fields of transport and related infrastructure. Ljubljana earned special mention from the ‘Access City Award 2012’ jury for its consistent and integrated concept of accessibility in the city centre which among other things includes buses fitted with audio and video stop announcements, Braille signs at bus stops and a city centre tactile map. City of Ljubljana is constantly striving to improve mobility in the city, and participation in CIVITAS ELAN project is a boost. The city administration, together with public bus transport company LPP, is setting up a demand-responsive public transport service to meet the mobility needs of people with disabilities. Ljubljana is the first city in Slovenia to develop an innovative and flexible demand-responsive public transport services system with the possibility to later on apply the service to low-density areas more widely, that will improve accessibility and reduce social exclusion of impaired people. This service, upgraded within CIVITAS ELAN Project, will be introduced together with other activities such as advocacy for legislation granting people with disabilities equal access to public mobility services. The measure also includes introduction of system (bus on demand) for test purpose on regular bus line which has low frequency or no service at all. Until now, people with disabilities relied on associations that provide transport services to their members, but the municipality wants to build synergies with these organisations, draw on their experience and optimise their services, hence, the LPP and administration officers often organise meetings, workshops and other events to strengthen relationship with the disabled. Moreover, a new connection between pedestrian zones and regular bus line with 2 free of charge electric powered vehicles cars (70,000 passengers in 2010) has been established to improve the mobility also for the other public transport users, together with an innovative management tool for the transport on demand service. Meanwhile, two disabled-adapted taxis also have permits to enter the zone and, among other, a network of stakeholders that provide mobility and accessibility services to impaired people has been created to find even more solutions for improvements. Also, the city public transport is disabled-friendly: among 215 buses that operate on 23 lines totalling 316km with 672 stops, there are 170 low-floor buses, of which 108 have a pull-out ramp, while 169 are fitted with audio and video stop announcements and Braille signs are provided at bus stops. Public transport is free for people with disabilities and their carers. Journey information is available on the internet, by phone and the SMS bus info system, with arrival information displays at stops. By implementing systematic policies and measures to increase access, the lives of people with disabilities in the city become easier and more pleasant and it also affects the mindsets of other residents. They are ever more aware that no space or use is unchangeable and that solutions that benefit people with disabilities also help others.
Author: Kontić Vita