Welly Wellington ... capital of New Zealand, but not for the disabled!
I recently visited Wellington, from the South Island, for a two-night stay. I attended a one-day workshop about volunteering and Not For Profit governance.
I was appalled, to say the least, at the lack of disability services available. Namely, Powerchair transport. Having gained great confidence using my one-year-old Powerchair, which has allowed me to become very independent, I was dismayed when I began to research my transport options in Wellington.
A bus service that was on hold until 1 July (just some airport bus I believe). And not much information about other buses, for example how far from the airport the nearest stop is to get into the CBD. Or if I could get there without getting wet should it be raining.
I was disappointed to read there are very few options for mobility taxis that accommodate wheelchairs and Powerchairs, especially after 7pm. What’s with that? Other taxis run 24/7 and so do Ubers. Are the regulators at fault making it too difficult to provide such a service? At least 48hrs notice for a booking, they say, and even then it not 100% reliable. You could easily get hung out to dry (if it’s not raining!). The mobility taxi reviews scared me, quite frankly. I reneged and swapped my Powerchair for my smaller, foldable electric chair - which has no where near the functionality of my life-changing Powerchair.
This is compared to Christchurch which has a smaller population base and yet offers a number of mobility taxi options all day and most of the night. (Maybe I just have good contacts in Christchurch?)
To my mind it's quite unfair that, as a disabled person, I am so restricted. Manaakitanga indeed! This just seems to be the latest “in word” for government and local agencies. We need more than lip-service and platitudes. We need comprehensive accessibility legislation, that allows everyone - no matter the city or town, no matter the time of day or night - equitable access to services including transport.
Perhaps I was not reading the right information about Wellington's disability transport services. I would be pleased if someone told me I was wrong. It might convince me to visit again.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.