A DUNMANWAY wheelchair user has criticised Bus Éireann for not providing wheelchair-accessible buses on routes outside of the city.
Qualified beauty therapist, Sarah Dullea (22), who runs her own freelance business ‘Sarah’s Art of Beauty’ and who has spina bifida and hydrocephalus told The Southern Star that she was surprised to discover she could not travel on the 236 Bus Éireann bus from Bantry to Cork because it isn’t wheelchair-accessible.
‘What’s strange is that there are signs on the bus saying it is wheelchair-accessible, but when I enquired about this I was told by officials that the buses are not,’ said Sarah.
‘I’ve been hearing two different stories in that bus drivers have told me that there are ramps available for wheelchairs, while Bus Éireann officials have said it’s just not wheelchair-accessible.’
While Sarah can drive, she said she finds it difficult to park in the city and having recently had surgery on her back, she feels that she would be crippled driving up and down to Cork.
She said she has heard of other wheelchair users being forced to move to Cork because the buses in West Cork aren’t wheelchair-accessible.
‘I have a disabled card that allows me free travel but it’s no use to me if I can’t use the bus to get to Cork,’ added Sarah, who has also contacted public representatives about her situation.
A Bus Éireann spokesperson said that all their Bus Éireann city services are low floor and 100% wheelchair accessible.
‘Bus Éireann route 236 is, however, a rural service that operates between Bantry, Dunmanway and Cork, with a different type of vehicle and is not identified as a wheelchair-accessible route.
‘Many parameters must be considered prior to a route being allocated wheelchair-accessible friendly, this includes the infrastructure of the bus stop, which included the width and length of the stop, along with the camber of the footpath and the camber of the road, as the bus needs to be level for the lift on the coach to operate safely.
‘Bus Éireann will continue to work with both stakeholders to address some of these particular issues in Cork. We continue to work on a programme of more wheelchair-accessible services across our nationwide network.’
Cork South West Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony – who is the party’s spokesperson on Disability – said she has been raising this issue consistently with the Minister for Disability and the Minister for Transport and said the answers have been less than acceptable.
‘We need a greater level of urgency from the Government in terms of this issue. We know that people with disabilities already have a lower than average employment levels, and yet, we are still putting barriers in front of them to get to work. It’s just not on,’ said Deputy Murphy O’Mahony.