Public transport concessionary fares for the disabled are not much to ask

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 July, 2008, 12:00am

It is a measure of a society's level of inclusiveness to see how well (or in some cases, how badly) the disadvantaged members of that community are treated.

The government's travel subsidy for poorly paid workers in remote areas, announced in the last budget, is a very welcome step in the right direction.

Those unfortunate enough to be disabled face numerous challenges: social and practical, as well as economic.

It is, sadly, far from easy for a disabled person to receive an equal opportunity in finding a decent job. Many are therefore unemployed, or under-employed.

It must be terrible enough to be disabled, blind, or with a body which may be incomplete, or which does not function as effectively as that of others.

It behoves the rest of us to do all that we can to support them in the great challenge that their life represents.

In many parts of this world, disabled people automatically receive concessionary travel opportunities and rightly so. For example, registered disabled citizens in London receive a free travel pass on local public transport.

Today, in Hong Kong, a variety of groups representing the needs of the disabled in our city, will rally in Chater Garden, Central, at 2pm.

They are requesting what should really have been granted to the city's disabled citizens long ago - concessionary public transport fares for their disabled members.

They ask that the MTR offer them a 50 per cent fare concession.

That, at the very least, should be supported by a government subsidy so that the MTR shareholders don't feel they will lose by the introduction of this long-overdue measure.

Indeed, as part of its own corporate social responsibility, our MTR (which physically is carefully designed with the needs of the disabled in mind) should support this request.

Surely that is the least this city, which can well afford it, should do for our disabled citizens?

Paul Surtees, honorary fund-raising ambassador,

Hong Kong Federation of the Blind