Barrier-free transport to expand

Kyodo News

The government’s “barrier-free society” policy is expected to be bolstered by increasing the number public transport facilities amenable to elderly and handicapped people than currently planned, sources familiar with the move said Saturday.

Around 3,500 railway stations and 60 bus terminals across Japan will be subject to the change, which is to be worked out by the end of March with an eye to bringing about barrier-free access to these places by March 2021, the transport ministry-linked sources said.

According to the current policy, which went into force in 2006, about 2,800 railway stations and 40 bus terminals are required to achieve goals for improving efforts to secure barrier-free paths of travel, including eliminating unnecessary gaps and installing elevators.

The facilities subject to improvement are those that serve an average of about 5,000 travelers a day. The new plan will include facilities that serve 3,000 people a day.

The expected changes will target not only the facilities, but the trains, buses, and airplanes as well.

Trains, for example, must have wheelchair areas in 50 percent of their trains. But the new target will raise this to 70 percent, the source said.