The Structural Barriers to Universally Accessible Transport: The Tshwane (ZAF) Metropolitan Area Study Case

The Structural Barriers to Universally Accessible Transport: The Tshwane (ZAF) Metropolitan Area Study Case

B. Duri R. Luke

Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Available online: 
| Citation



People with disabilities face many obstacles in accessing public transport and their needs are often overlooked. The transport systems in many countries including South Africa do not meet the basic requirements of universal design, despite the awareness, support from different organisations and inclusion in policy. The purpose of the study was to investigate the structural barriers experienced by people with disabilities in accessing transport. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data from people with disabilities. The findings of the study reveal that infrastructure is generally poorly designed and there is a lack of accessible infrastructure, which consequently compromises the safety of people with disabilities. Most people with disabilities find it difficult to cross roads or intersections. The results also reveal that public transport vehicles do not comply with universal access principles. The study recommends regular accessibility audits of infrastructure which involve the participation of people with disabilities. This study contributes to literature on transport barriers experienced by people with disabilities not only in Tshwane but in other African cities. The barriers experienced by people with disabilities established in this study could inform decision makers and thereby help to improve policies and legislation regarding the provision of universally accessible transport infrastructure and services.


: developing country, people with disabilities, public transport, structural barriers, universally accessible transport


[1] Koryagin, M., Dementiev, A. and Sokolov, V., Management system of urban transport market. Transportation Research Procedia, 36, pp. 334–340, 2018.

[2] Rodrigue, P., The Geography of Transport Systems, 4th ed., Routledge, New York, 2017.

[3] Hernández, D., Public transport, well-being and inequality: coverage and affordability in the city of Montevideo. CEPAL Review, 122, 2017.

[4] Kett, M., Cole, E. & Turner, J., Disability, mobility and transport in low- and middleincome countries: A thematic review. Sustainability, 12(2), pp. 1–18, 2020.

[5] Bezyak, J.L., Sabella, S.C. & Gattis, R.H., Public transportation: An investigation of barriers for people with disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 28(1), pp. 52–60, 2017.

[6] Sze, N.N. & Christensen, K. M., Access to urban transportation system for individuals with disabilities. IATSS Research, 41, pp. 66–73, 2017.

[7] Coxon, S., Napper, R. & Richardson, M., Urban Mobility Design. Elsevier, Inc, 2019.

[8] United Nations (UN), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol, United Nations, 2006.

[9] Zajac, A.P., City accessible for everyone – improving accessibility of public transport using the universal design concept. Transportation Research Procedia, 14, pp. 1270– 1276, 2016.

[10] Jeekel, H., Inclusive transport: Fighting involuntary transport disadvantages, 1st ed., Elsevier, 2019.

[11] Bjerkan, K.Y. & Ovstedal, L.R., Functional requirements for inclusive transport. Transportation, 47, pp. 1177–1198, 2018.

[12] Cepeda, E.P., Galilea, P. & Raveau, S., How much do we value improvements on the accessibility to public transport for people with reduced mobility or disability? Research in Transportation Economics, 69, pp. 445–452, 2018.

[13] Park, J. & Chowdhury, S., Investigating the barriers in a typical journey by public transport users with disabilities. Journal of Transport & Health, 10, pp. 361–368, 2018.

[14] Grisé, E., Boisjoly, G., Maguire, M. & El-Geneidy, A., Elevating access: Comparing accessibility to jobs by public transport for individuals with and without a physical disability. Transportation Research Part A, 125, pp. 280–293, 2018.

[15] Vanderschuren, M.J.W.A. & Nnene, O., Inclusive planning: African policy inventory and South African mobility case study on the exclusion of persons with disabilities. Health Research Policy and Systems, 19(1), pp. 1–12, 2021.

[16] Rivasplata, C. & Le Roux, M., Improving the provision of transport for youth with disabilities in Cape Town. 37th Annual Southern Transport Conference (SATC 2018) Proceedings, 2018. ISBN No: 978-1-920017-89-7.

[17] Lister, H.E. & Dhunpath, R., The taxi industry and transportation for people with disabilities: Implications for universal access in a metropolitan municipality. Transformation 90, 2016. ISSN 0258-7696.

[18] Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), Community Survey. Provincial Profile Gauteng, available at, 2016 (accessed 30 December 2018).

[19] Morta-Andrews, N., A Case Study of Transport Services for Physically Disabled Citizens in the City of Cape Town, M.S.W. Dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2018.

[20] Oksenholt, V.K. & Aarhaug, J., Public transport and people with impairments – exploring non-use of public transport through the case of Oslo, Norway. Disability & Society, 33(8), pp. 1280–1302, 2018.

[21] Iudici, A., Bertoli, L. & Faccio, E., The ‘invisible’ needs of women with disabilities in transportation systems. Crime Prevention Community Safety, 19, pp. 264–275, 2017.

[22] Vale, D.S., Ascensao, F., Raposo, N. & Figueiredo, A.P., Comparing access for all: Disability-induced accessibility disparity in Lisbon. Journal of Geography Systems, 19, pp. 43–64, 2017.

[23] Wu, C., Li, J. & Li, X., Using community planning method to improve effect of urban barrier-free transportation system. Transportation Research Procedia, 25, pp. 4330– 4337, 2017.

[24] Abraham, C.H. et al., Knowledge and practice of drivers on the provision of service to persons with visual disability: A survey of public transport drivers in a tertiary inclusion school in West Africa. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 00(0), pp. 1–11, 2021. DOI:10.1177/02646196211044969.

[25] Bezyak, J.L., Sabella, S., Hammel, J., McDonald, K., Jones, R.A. & Barton, D., Community participation and public transportation barriers experienced by people with disabilities. Disability and Rehabilitation, 42(23), pp. 3275–3283, 2019.

[26] Wahyuni, E.S., Murti, B. & Joebagio, H., Public transport accessibility for people with disabilities. Journal of Health Policy and Management, 1(1), pp. 1–7, 2016.

[27] Mooney-Somers, J. & Oslen, A., Ethical review and qualitative research competence: Guidance for reviewers and applicants. Research Ethics, 13(3-4), pp. 128–138, 2017.

[28] Fouka, G. & Mantzorou, M., What are major ethical issues in conducting research? Is there a conflict between the research ethics and the nature of nursing? Health Science Journal, 5(1), pp. 3–14, 2011.

[29] McKercher, B. & Darcy, S., Re-conceptualising barriers to travel by people with disabilities. Tourism Management Perspectives, 26, pp. 59–66, 2018.

[30] Pyer, M. & Tucker, F., With us, we, like, physically can’t’: Transport, mobility and the leisure experiences of teenage wheelchair users. Mobilities, 12(1), pp. 36–52, 2017.

[31] Verseckiene, A., Meskauskas, V. & Batarliene, N., Urban public transport accessibility for people with movement disorders: The case of study of Vilnius. Procedia Engineering, 134, pp. 48–56, 2016.

[32] De Jong, M., The characteristics and needs of pedestrians with mobility impairments. Pedestrian and Evacuation Dynamics, ed. U. Weidmann, Springer International Publishing: Switzerland, pp. 91–105, 2014.

[33] Velho, R., Transport accessibility for wheelchair users: A qualitative analysis of inclusion and health. International Journal of Transportation Science and Technology, 8(2), pp. 103–115, 2019.

[34] Owusu-Ansah, J.K., Baisie, A. & Oduro-Ofori, E., The mobility impaired and the built environment in Kumasi: Structural obstacles and individual experiences. Geography Journal, 84, pp. 1003–1020, 2019.

[35] Hersh, M.A., Mobility technologies for blind, partially sighted and deafblind people: Design issues. Mobility of Visually Impaired People, eds. E. Pissaloux & R. Velázquez, pp 377–409, 2018.

[36] Guzman, L.A., Oviedo, D. & Rivera, C., Assessing equity in transport accessibility to work and study: The Bogotá region. Journal of Transport Geography, 58, pp. 236–246, 2017.

[37] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), A Review of International Best Practice in Accessible Public Transportation for Persons with Disabilities, UNDP: Malaysia, 2010.

[38] City of Tshwane, Maps and GIS, available at (accessed 20 February 2019).

[39] Ajayi, J., Aworemi, R., Wojuade, C. & Adebayo, T., Problems affecting the accessibility of physically-challenged individuals to intermediate public transport services in Oyo State, Nigeria. Logistics & Sustainable Transport, 11(1), pp. 114–120, 2020.

[40] Ahmad, M., Independent-mobility rights and the state of public transport accessibility for disabled people: Evidence from Southern Punjab in Pakistan. Administration & Society, 47(2), pp. 197–213, 2015.

[41] Ipingbemi, O., Mobility challenges and transport safety of people with disabilities (PWD) in Ibadan, Nigeria. African Journal for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, 18(3), pp. 15–28, 2015.

[42] Soltani, S.H.K., Sham, M., Awang, M. & Yaman, R., Accessibility for disabled in public transportation terminal. Procedia- Social and Behavioral Sciences, 35, pp. 89–96, 2012.

[43] Raosoft, Sample size calculator, available at (accessed 20 March 2022).

[44] Creswell, J.W. & Plano Clark, V.L., Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research, 3rd ed., Sage Publications, 2018.

[45] Bryman, A. & Bell, E., Research methodology: Business and management contexts, Oxford University Press: Southern Africa, 2017.

[46] De Vos, A.S., Strydom, H., Fouché, C.B. & Delport, C.S.L., Research at Grass Roots: For the Social Sciences and Human Service Professions, 4th ed., Van Schaik Publishers, 2019.

[47] Saunders, M.N., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A., Research Methods for Business Students, 5th ed., Pearson Education, 2009.

[48] Pallant, J., SPSS. Survival Manual. A Step by Step Guide to Data Analysis Using SPSS for Windows, 3rd ed., Open University Press, 2007.

[49] Kaiser, H.F., An index of factorial simplicity. Psychometrika, 39, pp. 31–36, 1974.

[50] Bartlett, M.S., Tests of significance in factor analysis. British Journal of Psychology, 1950.

[51] Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport (GDRT), Gauteng Province Household Travel Survey Report 2019/20, Republic of South Africa, 2020.

[52] Arrive Alive, Intersections and safe driving, available at intersections-and-safe-driving (accessed 20 March 2022).

[53] Bombom, L.S. & Abdullahi, I., Travel patterns and challenges of physically disabled persons in Nigeria. Geography Journal, 81, pp. 519–533, 2016.

[54] Stjernborg, V., Accessibility for all in public transport and the overlooked (social) dimension—a case study of Stockholm. Sustainability, 11(18), p. 4902, 2019.

[55] Auto-Mobility, Transport Service and Vehicle Hire, available at (accessed 20 December 2018).

[56] Gontsana, M., Broken Lifts and Stairs for Commuters with Wheelchairs, GroundUP, available at (accessed 20 March 2022).

[57] Behrens, R. & Gorgens, T., Challenges in achieving universal access to transport services in South African cities. The Palgrave Handbook of Disability and Citizenship in the Global South, eds. B. Watermeyer, J. McKenzie & L. Swartz, Palgrave Macmillan: Heidelberg, Germany, 2019.

[58] Department of Transport (DoT), Making Public Transport Universally Accessible for All, Department of Transport: South Africa, 2012.

[59] Likitpattanakul, S., Ratchajanda, S. & Pamanee, K., The pilot project on paratransit for people with disabilities and elderly in Thailand. The 4th Ratchasuda International Conference on Disability 2017, Ratchasuda College of Mahido University: Thailand, 2017.

[60] World Bank, Improving Accessibility to Transport for People with Limited Mobility: A Practical Guidance Note, Washington, DC, World Bank, available at https://, 2013 (accessed 30 January 2019).

[61] King, J.A., King, M.J., Edward, N., Hair, S.A., Choeang, S., Pearson, A. & Coelho, S., Addressing transport safety and accessibility for people with a disability in developing countries: a formative evaluation of the Journey Access Tool in Cambodia. Global Health Action, 11, p. 1538658, 2018.

[62] Riazi, A., Riazi, F., Yoosfi, R. & Bahmeei, F., Outdoor difficulties experienced by a group of visually impaired Iranian people. Journal of Current Ophthalmology, 28, pp. 85–90, 2016.

[63] Whitzman, C., James, K. & Poweseu, I., Travelling together: Participatory research methods for disability inclusive road development in Papua New Guinea. Journal of Transport Geography, 26, pp.65–71, 2013.

[64] Tokuda, K., Road transport barriers encountered by people with travel difficulties in Japan. IATSS Research, 25(1), pp. 12–22, 2001.

[65] Achuthan, K., Titheridge, H. & Mackett, R.L., Mapping accessibility differences for the whole journey and for socially excluded groups of people. Journal of Maps, 6(1), pp. 220–229, 2010.

[66] City of Tshwane, Comprehensive Integrated Transport Plan. Draft report, Department of Roads and Transport, 2015.

[67] Kabia, E., Mbau, R., Muraya, K.W., Morgan, R., Molyneux, S. & Barasa, E., How do gender and disability influence the ability of the poor to benefit from pro-poor health financing policies in Kenya? An intersectional analysis. International Journal for Equity in Health, 17(149), pp. 1–12, 2018.

[68] Wu, Y. J., Liu, W. & Yuan, C., A mobile-based barrier-free service transportation platform for people with disabilities. Computer in Human Behavior, 107, p. 105776, 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2018.11.005.