Better bus facilities for wheelchair users across the county are to be discussed by the Council and transport chiefs.
Councillors have given their support for the Council to contact both Bus Éireann and the NTA (National Transport Authority) on the matter.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind), who raised the motion, said he has spoken to wheelchair users who are aggrieved at the lack of access to public transport within the county. He pointed out that on his own bus routes in West Cork – Cork to Bantry 236 and Cork to Goleen 237 – there are no wheelchair-accessible buses.
‘Some have told me that they must contact Bus Éireann 24 hours in advance to see if it’s possible to use a wheelchair accessible bus on the route they live on,’ said Cllr Collins.
He pointed out that bus union members are seeking for seats to be removed on buses to allow wheelchair spaces to be accessible at all times, and that drivers be trained to use wheelchair lifts on Bus Éireann. He also called for adequate space at every bus stop.
Cllr Collins highlighted the plight of Dunmanway beauty therapist Sarah Dullea – who also featured on The Southern Star late last year – who is a wheelchair user and is unable to use public transport.
‘She feels aggrieved as she can’t travel on the bus to Bantry and she knows of other wheelchair users in the county who wanted to stay in their homes and work in Cork city but can’t do so, as there’s no public transport provided for them, so they had to move to live in Cork.’
He called on the Council to ensure that all bus stops are wheelchair accessible and that Bus Éireann provide buses on every route.
‘I don’t think wheelchair users should be treated less favourably than any able-bodied person in this day and age,’ added Cllr Collins.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF), who seconded the motion said that there was a ‘trace of discrimination’ in that wheelchair users are not getting the same bus service.
‘There was a great start in Skibbereen a few years ago when a wheelchair accessible bus stop was put in near the church. However, if you came back into town on the return journey in the evening you’d be dropped off at another place,’ said Cllr Carroll.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said the motion was a ‘no brainer’ and that it speaks for itself and that all new buses should be wheelchair accessible.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) described the arrangement of booking 24 hours in advance as ‘farcical’ and that it should be scrapped.
Cllr Danielle Twomey (SF) said that no one should be held back because of their disability, while her colleague Eoghan Jeffers said minute works can improve the situation.
Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) asked Cllr Collins if the NTA could be added to the motion as he said ‘they are critical when it comes to all these issues.’
County mayor Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF), who is a wheelchair user, said that as a public service, accessible buses should be made available to everyone.
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