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Written Answers. - Public Transport.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 353. Mr. McHugh Information on Paddy McHugh Zoom on Paddy McHugh  asked the Minister for Transport Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan  if a comprehensive and accessible public transport service will be provided to include regional bus services in order that persons with disabilities can access same without difficulty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24683/02]

Minister for Transport (Mr. Brennan): Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan It is my policy that all bus and rail public transport operators, and in particular the State owned transport companies, should provide the highest possible degree of accessibility within the overall resources available to them. In accordance with the national development plan, all buses purchased by both Bus Átha Cliath and Bus Éireann since 2000 for use on urban services are low floor [1119] and wheelchair accessible. In pursuing this policy Bus Átha Cliath now operates 367 low floor wheelchair accessible buses on its Dublin city services. This represents almost 35% of the city fleet and some 35 bus routes in Dublin now have fully accessible services.

Following a comprehensive bus replacement programme in recent years, Bus Éireann's entire regular urban fleets in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford comprise low-floor wheelchair accessible vehicles. In addition, the company is testing twenty low-floor wheelchair accessible buses on a number of rural routes and six low floor buses on the Ashbourne-Dublin commuter route. I understand that Bus Éireann is continuing to monitor developments in relation to the design and manufacture of long distance coaches with regard to improving the company's capacity to meet the needs of people with mobility impairments on their inter-urban services.

Iarnród Éireann's DART and Arrow suburban rail services are wheelchair accessible over most of the network. The Enterprise service on the Dublin-Belfast line and all inter-city rail services using the more modern rolling stock are also accessible. A number of older rail carriages are not wheelchair accessible and most of these will be phased out over the next three years or so as new wheelchair accessible rolling stock comes on line. The new rolling stock, which will be designed to meet the most up to date accessibility standards, will begin to enter into service from early next summer.

There is an ongoing programme in place to provide either ramps or lifts at rail stations to make platforms more accessible for the mobility impaired and other accessibility improvements are also undertaken when bus and rail stations are being developed or refurbished.

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