IF people with disabilities want to travel from any town in West Cork to Cork city, they must give 24 hours’ notice, Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony told the Dáil.
Speaking during Question Time, she said in an age in which we want everyone to be equal, she found this very hard to swallow.
‘Even if the bus is disability-friendly, there are towns in which the bus stop is not,’ she said.
‘A lot of work needs to be done in this area. Those who are blind or visually impaired cannot drive and, therefore, public transport is their only means of transport.
‘Accessible public transport is vital for their independence. Availability goes hand-in-hand with accessibility.’
In response, Minister Shane Ross said he could assure the deputy that his department and its agencies are committed to engaging actively with the strategy, including the continued development of accessible public transport in recognition of the importance of such services to the lives of people with disabilities.
‘In this regard I should mention that the four-year capital envelope for public transport announced in Budget 2018 includes a multi-annual allocation of almost €28m for the accessibility retro-fit programme for the period 2018 to 2021,’ he said.
‘This funding is a trebling of the previous allocation. It relates to accessibility upgrades for existing older infrastructure and is additional to the investment in new infrastructure which, as a matter of course, is nowadays designed to facilitate accessibility,’ added the Minister.