Auroville, a township in Tamil Nadu, has got a new and advanced addition to its transport system in the form of a public accessible bus.
“By public accessible bus we mean a bus for everybody – the elderly, people who are living with some form of disability, mothers with children, pregnant women, people travelling with heavy load, people with no problems, everyone,” says Susmita, the woman behind this project.
The public accessible bus is a part of the Accessible Auroville project that was started in Auroville in 2009 by Susmita and her friends.
The vision behind the project is to make the region more accessible in terms of mobility for all.
To begin, Susmita purchased a normal bus with the help of funding received from one of her friends who is a regular visitor of Auroville and was extremely concerned about the facilities related to mobility. She wanted to make some donation for a transportation related project, and they finalised on the bus.
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It is basically a Tata CityRide Marcopolo bus with 12 seats, and is worth Rs. 9 lakh. Once the bus was acquired, Susmita took it to Karur district of Tamil Nadu, which is home to a factory where vehicles can be customised. There they got a double door entrance installed at the rear of the bus. Then they took it to Chennai to get a platform with a lift installed at that door, for wheelchairs etc. to be moved into the bus. The platform was imported from Italy. Some seats inside the bus have been removed to make place for wheelchair users.
“It was a great experience at the factory where the platform lift was installed. It has several differently abled workers who have wonderful skills in helping people with special needs,” says Susmita. According to her, this is the first such bus in Tamil Nadu, and will serve as a model for many more to come.
She and her team are working on spreading awareness about inclusive and accessible places in Auroville.
“We are working for Auroville to be as sensitively-designed and inclusive a human environment as possible, free of those unnecessary barriers that make life difficult for some among us. In other words we want a place where, within reason, all can access areas and facilities equally, and take full advantage of opportunities for work, education, leisure, and so on, with the minimum of difficulty, need to ask for help, or embarrassment,” says a report on their website.