Commuter Says He Had To Crawl Onto Train
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 26, 2004
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND--Tim Dempsey said he was stunned recently when a Tranz Metro train manager at Sturges Road station told him he could not use a wheelchair ramp to get onto the commuter train. The manager said it was too late to get a ramp because the train was running five minutes behind.
"I was thinking, I'm going to have to get on the train and this was the only option I had, so I crawled on without any help," Dempsey, the Muscular Dystrophy Association's national fundraising manager, told the Fairfax New Zealand Limited.
"This is crazy, this is not some type of Third World country -- this is Auckland, 2004."
Although he does not yet use a wheelchair, Dempsey does use a walking stick and has difficulty walking up stairs because of his muscular dystrophy.
He said he had used the ramp on an earlier commute when the train was running 30 minutes late.
Dempsey and a colleague planned to file a complaint with Tranz Metro and the Auckland Regional Council.
"The important thing for me is, let's make sure this doesn't happen again and let's make sure they educate their staff about disabled access," he explained.
"Access is not always physical in the sense of a ramp, often it's people's attitudes. That train wasn't inaccessible, the train manager's attitude made it inaccessible."
Tranz Metro general manager Paul Ashton announced that an investigation into the incident had been launched.