Disability Standards Accessible Public Transport

Claims against public transport providers for disability discrimination are increasing whether it is for day to day travel or holiday or recreation purposes, therefore it’s important for providers of premises, infrastructure or conveyances to know what the disability standards and the law requires now and in the near future.

What is DSAPT or Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport

Disability Standards for Accessible Public TransportDSAPT or the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport were formulated under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and came into operation on 23 October 2002. The Standards establish minimum accessibility requirements to be met by providers and operators of public transport conveyances, infrastructure and premises. The Standards take into account the range of disability covered by the DDA and apply to most public transport premises, infrastructure and conveyances.

DSAPT History

In 2007, Australia signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in a global effort to promote the equal and active participation of all people with a disability. The Convention puts the responsibility back on society to ensure that all people must be provided with opportunities to reach their full potential, regardless of their situation or disability.

Carrum Train Station Level Crossing RemovalThe Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 (Cth) provides protection for everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability. Disability discrimination happens when people with a disability are treated less fairly than people without a disability. Disability discrimination also occurs when people are treated less fairly because they are relatives, friends, carers, co-workers or associates of a person with a disability.

The DDA encourages everyone to be involved in implementing the Act and to share in the overall benefits to the community and the economy that flow from participation by the widest range of people.

Complexity of DSAPT

DSAPT TrainPublic transport passenger use areas require a complex application of disability legislation, codes and standards. When DSAPT was developed back in 2002, older standards were in place and incorporated into the transport standards, and these remain referenced today. The issue with this is that it creates a conflict with some of the current provisions when assessing projects; some examples are accessible toilets, stair nosings and access path edge protection,  but it is important to note that these projects also require compliance with the Building Code of Australia which references both the old and current standards and where a conflict arises, the older standards are to take precedence (Part H2.1). It is therefore important that public transport operators engage an experienced and accredited access consultant to guide them and provide appropriate advice on how to meet obligations and improve the environment for users with disability.

Wheelchair access to airportsDSAPT is currently undergoing its third review by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Department. It was identified through consultations in the previous review that the objective of DSAPT was not being met and in response to this, the Australian Government developed a best practice guide ‘The Whole Journey: A guide for thinking beyond compliance to create accessible public transport journeys’ to encourage stakeholders to consider the access needs of the end-users from the moment they commence their journey until they reach their destination. Link here https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/transport/disabilities/whole-journey/index.aspx

DSAPT Obligations

Public transport operators have an obligation under the DDA’s public transport standards, otherwise known as DSAPT (Disability Standards Accessible Public Transport Act 2002) to provide an accessible environment for passengers with disabilities. Although the transport standards set a minimum level of compliance for premises, infrastructure and conveyances (ferries, trains, trams, monorails, aircrafts, buses, catamarans etc.) It permits ‘equivalent’ access with direct assistance where compliance is not achievable. While this is understandable in certain circumstances (e.g. operators assisting passengers to board a ferry affected by high or low tides), the main common objective should always be to provide dignified, equitable and independent access for everyone regardless of ability, especially at the design stage when the opportunity to enhance the environment is at its greatest.

What is the relevant disability discrimination legislation for public transport?

In terms of disability discrimination, public transport premises, infrastructure or conveyances are affected by the:

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA); and
  • Disability Standards Accessible Public Transport Act 2002 (Cth) (Disability Standards Act).
  • NCC Building Code of Australia Part H2


Equal Access has successfully consulted on multiple public transport premises, infrastructure and conveyances projects throughout Australia, including:

  • New trains
  • New ferries
  • New trams
  • Domestic & international airport upgrades
  • New and upgraded train stations
  • Public transport associated carparks
  • New and upgraded bus stops
  • New and upgraded tram stops

What is covered in a Premises Access Audit?

Access Audits for premises are complex and involve auditing all accessible related parts of the facility. Typically these include:

  • Paths of travel including ramps, stairs, escalators & elevators
  • Emergency warning devices
  • Resting points & waiting areas
  • Points of boarding
  • Surfaces
  • Amenities, including toilets & showers
  • Signage & wayfinding
  • Lighting levels & hearing augmentation
  • Furniture & fitments, including internal & external
  • Contextual information – Disability Action Plans

DSAPT Disability Action Plans

A disability action plan enables an organisation to meet its obligations under the DDA. A Disability Action Plan states how an organisation will make changes over a period of time to reduce discrimination and promote equality of people with a disability.

An action plan prepared under the DDA must contain the following (s.61):

Review of current activities

  • Identify barriers through consultation with people with a disability.

Devise policies and programs

  • Identify strategies to address the barriers and use experts to help where necessary, such as Access Consultants.

Set goals and targets

  • Goals and targets must be measurable and achievable.

Define evaluation strategies

  • Set time frames for when the goals and targets will be reviewed.

Allocate responsibility

  • Identify who will be responsible for implementing each of the strategies and how progress will be reported.

Communicate policies and programs

  • Determine how the action plan will be communicated to all stakeholders, and identify any specific training or support required for staff.

Key Definitions


  1. A conveyance includes any of the following, to the extent that they are used to provide a public transport service:
    1. aircraft;
    2. buses or coaches;
    3. ferries;
    4. taxis;
    5. trains, trams, light rail, monorails, rack railways;
    6. any other rolling stock, vehicle or vessel classified as public transport within its jurisdiction by regulation or administrative action of any Government in Australia.
  1. A conveyance does not include the following:
    1. charter boats (including water taxis);
    2. limousines (including chauffeured hire cars);
    3. self-drive rental cars.


  1. Infrastructure is any structure or facility that is used by passengers in conjunction with travelling on a public transport service.
  2. Infrastructure does not include any area beyond immediate boarding points (for example, bus stops, wharves, ranks, rail stations, terminals).


  1. Premises are structures, buildings or attached facilities that an operator provides for passenger use as part of a public transport service.
  2. Premises are a form of infrastructure.

Download DSAPT

DSAPT can be downloaded from the Australian Government Federal Register of Legislation

Download the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002


  • New Victorian and NSW trains for Bombardier.
  • New Brisbane ferries for Ausship (multiple)
  • Montmorency Station redevelopment
  • Greensborough Station redevelopment
  • Diamond Creek Station redevelopment
  • Maryborough Station redevelopment
  • Carrum Station redevelopment
  • Kananook Station redevelopment
  • Seaford signal maintenance depot
  • Mentone Station redevelopment
  • Cheltenham Station redevelopment
  • Bonbeach Station redevelopment
  • Chelsea Station redevelopment
  • Edithvale Station redevelopment
  • Cherry Street level crossing and overpass
  • Bendigo railway station redevelopment
  • Darwin international airport DSAPT audit
  • Alice Springs airport DSAPT audit
  • Broome Airport DSAPT audit
  • Victrack: Bentleigh and McKinnon Stations
  • Queensland Rail – Alderley and Dinmore Station
  • Pontoon and walkway ramps, Darwin waterfront
  • Bendigo tourist trams facility upgrades
  • Barangaroo Wharf 1 & 2
  • Geelong Spirit of Tasmania Ferry Terminal
  • V/Line Access Ramp Trolley
  • Asia Pacific Design Review of Passenger Information Displays
  • Route 96 tram project Nicholson Street – Transafe
  • New and upgraded bus stops and shelters – various
  • New and upgraded tram stops – various
  • Public transport associated carparks

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