Dail Eireann discusses report on transport for people with disabilities

 

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The Dail sat last night to debate a report by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport on accessible public transport for people with disabilities. You can read that report here

In compiling the report, the Committee met with a number of disabled people as well as disability organisations such as Inclusion Ireland to hear about the issues people with disabilities experience with Ireland’s public transport system.

People told the Committee about a lack of accessible information, problems with the free travel scheme, the impact of travel costs on disabled people and the negative impact of poor customer service.

Inclusion Ireland was pleased to see recommendations in the report aimed at addressing many of these issues. Some of the recommendations in the report include:

  • Ensure information is available in accessible formats at all stages of a journey

  • Ensure facilities for passengers, such as Changing Places, are available at major transport hubs

  • Get rid of the need to provide advance notice to travel

Importantly, the report makes a number of recommendations aimed at addressing cost of disability. These include:

  • Reviewing the level of state support for transport in light of the removal of the Motorised Transport grant and advancing the transport Support Scheme

  • Reviewing the Free Travel scheme to ensure it takes into account the additional costs of travel for people with disabilities

  • Providing alternative forms of travel support, such as taxi tokens, where public transport is not possible

Discussing the report in the Dail last night, many of the Deputies referenced Inclusion Ireland recommendations such as Independent TD Thomas Pringle, who pointed out that poor rural transport can make travel for people with disabilities even harder. Deputy Pringle also pointed out that spontaneous travel is denied people with disabilities, something that is taken for granted by many people. The Deputy also asked that public awareness training with the aim of changing attitudes should be carried out.

Fianna Fail TD, Fiona O’Loughlin said that access to transport was important and people with disability  do not enjoy access to society on an equal basis including an opportunity to work, to have a social life & contributing to society. Deputy O’Loughlin raised unstaffed stations as a barrier, particularly to people with intellectual disabilities.  The Deputy also raised the Inclusion Ireland pre-budget submission where we stressed the urgent need to advance Health (Transport Support) Bill to replace the discontinued Motorised Transport Scheme.

Independent TD Tommy Broughan stated that the point of public transport Is to provide a facility to all citizens and called on the Minister for Transport to make the resources available to deliver on the report's recommendations.