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Disability standards for accessible public transport

The Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 set out the minimum accessibility requirements that providers and operators of public transport must comply with, as well as ensuring that access to transport is consistently improved.

The transport standards recognise that access to public transport enables people with disability, their families and their carers to fully participate in community life and also benefits many older Australians and parents with infants in prams.

The transport standards apply to:

  • trams
  • trains
  • buses and coaches
  • taxis
  • ferries
  • aeroplanes.

The transport standards also set out minimum standards for premises including:

  • access paths
  • manoeuvring areas
  • ramps and boarding devices
  • allocated spaces
  • handrails and grab rails
  • doorways, lifts, stairs, toilets, symbols and signs
  • the payment of fares
  • access to information about transport services.

Compliance with the requirements set out in the standards provides operators with protection from a complaint of unlawful discrimination.

Since October 2002, all new public transport conveyances, premises and infrastructure must comply with the transport standards. Facilities already in operation at that time have between five and thirty years to comply with the standards.


The transport standards apply to the full range of public transport vehicles, premises and infrastructure with the following exclusions:

  • limousines, hire cars and charter boats
  • dedicated school bus services
  • small aircraft with fewer than thirty seats
  • airports that do not accept regular public transport services.


An exemption can allow a transport operator or provider to lawfully not comply with the usual requirements in the standards for a set period. For more information visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

Defence of unjustifiable hardship

Under the transport standards, a provider or operator can use unjustifiable hardship as a defence against a claim that they have discriminated against someone unlawfully.

A court considers the following factors in assessing a claim of unjustifiable hardship:

  • costs
  • exceptional operational, technical or geographic factors
  • resources reasonably available
  • likely benefits or detriment of compliance
  • action plans developed
  • consultations involving people with disability
  • good faith efforts to comply.

Transport standards reviews

The Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development is responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of the transport standards in consultation with the Attorney-General.

Information about earlier reviews of the transport standards may be found on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website.