An evaluation of the facilities for disabled people on the Tyne and Wear Metro
Abstract The Tyne and Wear Metro is a modern light rail transit system which was opened in stages from 1980 onwards. Provision for disabled people has been made so that the system is intended to be fully accessible throughout. This thesis comprises an evaluation of these facilities for disabled people and the main findings are as follows: i) The system was not originally intended to incorporate facilities for disabled people, but a gradual change of policy resulted in the provision of full access; ii) Surveys of disability indicate that about 7% to 8% of the population of the Tyne and Wear area suffer from some disability. However, those disabled people most likely to use Metro and benefit from its facilities (i.e. non-housebound, physically handicapped or visually impaired people) together comprise only about 2% of the Tyne and Wear population; iii) Only a minority (perhaps one-third) of local disabled people use the system and disabled people account for only about 0.5% of Metro passengers. However, the facilities for disabled people are also used by non-disabled passengers, such as people with prams, pushchairs, luggage, shopping, and so on. In fact, these non-disabled users considerably outnumber disabled users; iv) The ergonomic performance of the facilities for disabled people was varied. Provision at new purpose-built stations was generally more satisfactory than at older stations taken over from British Rail, even where the latter had undergone some modernisation; v) Among disabled people who had not been on Metro, non-use appeared to be mainly due to poor overall mobility rather than any specific problems with Metro; vi) A social cost-benefit analysis nevertheless suggests that the total value of all benefits likely to accrue from the facilities for disabled people will, over time, offset the capital cost and also provide a social return on investment. This is mainly due to the large number of non-disabled, but "legitimate" users of these facilities. Costs per trip also compare very favourably with other forms of transport for disabled people.