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New gov't barrier-free policy to include more stations, bus terminals.

TOKYO, Jan. 8 Kyodo

The government is considering changes to its basic policy of creating a barrier-free society with an eye to making public transport facilities more friendly to the elderly and handicapped than currently planned, sources familiar with the move said Saturday.

Around 3,500 railway stations and 60 bus terminals across Japan are subject to the change to be worked out by the end of March so that barrier-free access at these places will be realized by March 2021, according to the sources linked with the transport ministry.

The current policy covers about 2,800 railway stations and 40 bus terminals, where the operators are required to achieve the goals for improvement in their efforts to secure barrier-free paths of travel, including eliminating unnecessary gaps and installing elevators.

In its policy review, based on the new barrier-free legislation that went into force in 2006 given Japan's rapidly aging society, the government decided to include smaller facilities used by 3,000 people on a daily average instead of 5,000 under the current plan.

As under the existing policy, operators of public transport systems will be required to make new stations and other facilities completely barrier-free in the future.

Among other measures expected to be added are constructing platform fences at railway stations and including trains, buses and airplanes, in addition to facilities, in the list of sites for the barrier-free scheme. In the case of trains, the ratio of cars with wheelchair spaces is projected to be raised to 70 percent from the current goal of 50 percent.

The government also intends to make clear that elderly and handicapped people should be encouraged to take part in the process of barrier-free planning by public transport operators, the sources said.
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Date:Jan 10, 2011
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