Lack of Transport access leaves those with Disabilities cut off – Munster
Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Imelda Munster TD has today expressed disappointment that the Minister for Transport Shane Ross is not supportive of working towards full accessibility for disabled passengers on public transport by enshrining a commitment in legislation.
Speaking during Minister’s question time today, Deputy Munster asked the Minister if he was in favour of enshrining a policy of full accessibility on public transport for wheelchair users in legislation. Despite the fact that the question was put to him three times, Minister Ross did not answer the question, thereby indicating that such a move is not being considered by his department.
The Louth TD said:
“If we all agree that people with disabilities or mobility problems are entitled to travel freely in the same way that anyone else is, I think it is important that we consider the introduction of statutory measures that will make transport providers and government accountable. Twelve years after the introduction of the Disability Act was introduced, people are still struggling to access public transport because they use wheelchairs or have other mobility challenges. Clearly, further action is required to quickly improve services for people with disabilities.
“In rural areas, public transport is already poor, but it is even worse for those who cannot board coaches in their locality. Train users have to inform Iarnród Éireann that they intend to travel 24 hours in advance. I welcome the incoming pilot project on DART services to reduce this notice period to 4 hours, however at the same time Iarnród Éireann is introducing even more unstaffed stations, which is bad news for people with disabilities.
“The government says that it recognises that people with disabilities are less likely to be able to work and therefore are at a high risk of poverty. One obvious barrier to work is being unable to access accessible public transport. I asked the Minister three times if he would make a commitment to put a commitment to full accessibility on public transport on a statutory basis, and he did not answer the question. If the government’s National Disability Inclusion Strategy is to be successful, we need cooperation from all relevant departments. This is obviously not forthcoming from the Minister for Transport.”