Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - tram/light rail, place - australasia, policy - disability, ridership - old people


Melbourne, tram system, overcrowding, disability, accessibility, low floor


Melbourne has one of the largest tram systems in the world yet access is difficult for many passengers, generally excluding people using wheelchairs and scooters and those with prams, luggage and shopping. Overcrowding from sustained increases in patronage and traffic congestion aggravate the problem, leading to longer travel times. The Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 and Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT) 2002 have recently imposed accessibility requirements on the design of conveyances and infrastructure. They are to be achieved within mandatory timeframes, adding legal pressure to develop a more accessible tram network. The problem is common world-wide. The recent expansion of new light rail systems installed in Europe and elsewhere provides scope to analyse emerging trends in accessibility. Literature on infrastructure design is limited, so the research adopts a case study basis. It identifies key access issues then compares design solutions in several cities to identify common features and emerging trends. This paper concludes that level access from a platform tram stop to a low floor tram remains the prevailing solution universally. It provides access for people with disabilities in accordance with the legislation, improves access for everyone, and delivers operational benefits. Integration of standard designs with the existing urban fabric also creates new directions for accessibility to public transport. The challenge of improving access to Melbourne’s tram system may be assisted by applying design solutions and trends identified in the research.