Inclusive transport for all: Addressing the needs of women and people with disabilities in South Sulawesi’s railway stations

Two women seated on benches at a railway station

A new rail transport project needs to attract as many passengers as possible to be financially viable, while also bringing benefits to local communities. An important element of achieving this is building train stations that are safe for everyone. This is especially so for women and people with disabilities for whom safety is a key factor in their willingness to travel by train.

The new railway system being built in South Sulawesi provides an ideal opportunity to examine whether women and people with disabilities will have facilities that meet their needs and encourage their use of public transport.

We conducted a gender and accessibility audit on two completed stations, Tanete Rilau and Palanro, examining how well they supported passengers who are women, and those with a disability. According to our research, women in the audit thought that the stations generally felt safe, although it would depend on adequate lighting and security. The women mostly liked the materials, solid construction, form and layout of the stations. As the stations are new they were clean and in good condition with beautiful views to the surrounding countryside.

Overall there were problems with access to the stations, facilities that were not private or suitable, a lack of signage to suit people with different needs and areas within and around the station that made people feel unsafe.

Click here to read the full report ‘Inclusive transport for all: Addressing the needs of women and people with disabilities in South Sulawesi’s railway stations’

This report outlines what policymakers can do to create a public space where everyone feels as though they belong. For women it means creating a safe and comfortable space as their experience in public transport is often the opposite to this which includes the risk of sexual harassment. Women typically will be cautious and look for signs of danger or situations where they might feel unsafe. People with disabilities also need to feel safe and independent. These are vital considerations to take into account when planning in order to avoid railway stations that perpetuate inequalities.

Having identified these issues, we are able to make the following recommendations:

1. Conduct follow-up safety audits of the stations, particularly at night, once the train line becomes operational and regular passenger trains are running.
2. Put systems in place to ensure compliance with disability access regulations prior to the construction of significant infrastructure.
3. Establish systems to evaluate future projects based on the safety audit results, taking into account the layouts and amenities identified by women.
4. Investigate the process that led to disability regulation non-compliance with disability regulations to better understand how to avoid similar issues in the future


Feature image: PAIR