Survival of the fittest for Metrorail commuters

Elderly woman struggles to catch train even when it was an hour late

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Photo of a train station
At Parow station on Thursday morning commuters can be seen in the distance crossing the railway tracks to reach Platform One. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

Commuters at Parow station, especially those with disabilities, pregnant women and the elderly, struggled to catch their train on Thursday morning.

Commuters said they had been waiting for an hour for the train. When it did arrive, it stopped unexpectedly at Platform One, a platform that is almost never used. Many people had been waiting at the usual Platform Two.

Some commuters rushed across the railway tracks. There was no security in sight. Others ran up the stairs and over the pedestrian bridge, pushing through the ticket gates. Metrorail employees checking tickets were overwhelmed.

Commuters said they were not informed about the platform change.

An elderly woman told GroundUp she missed her train as she could not run up the stairs to reach Platform One in time. She was travelling to Goodwood clinic for X-rays. “I am disappointed I could not get on that train after waiting here for ages … Why don’t they tell us in time to move to the working platform?” she asked.

A disabled man from Cravenby said, “It’s not just us disabled; many times I have seen women struggling with their baby prams.”

He said, “Our government should consider our struggles and formulate policies that force companies like Metrorail and other public institutions to be considerate and make Parow station easily accessible with wheelchairs.”

On 14 October 2016 GroundUp reported on difficulties faced by people with disability trying to access trains. Some said they pay up to R100 in a day for people to help them onto the trains.

On the Southern Line, GroundUp spoke to a young man in a chef’s uniform who boarded at Salt River. He had waited nearly an hour. A week ago he had received a final written warning for arriving late at work. It was now 8:45am. His stop was Rondebosch. He was anxious because a function for which he had to cater had been booked for 9am. Then at 8:55am, between Rosebank and Rondebosch stations, the train unexpectedly stopped.

The story will be updated when comment is received from Metrorail.

TOPICS:  Disability Rights Prasa / Metrorail

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