The Need for Door-to-door Transport to be part of the Transport for Ireland Initiative
A few weeks ago, there was a report on the news about the “National Disability Authority” (NDA for short) calling on Dublin Bus to make more buses accessible for wheelchair users. However, what the NDA and other organisations do not realise is that the buses are only suitable for the small, mostly manual, wheelchairs. But today many people use bigger electric chairs. The main reason for this is health and safety for the users.
In recent months, Government policy has been to encourage people to use public transport instead of cars to cut down on the harmful emissions and their effects on climate change. But this policy fails to take account of the different needs among people with disabilities who use simple mobility aids or who have limitations of sight or hearing—and those with mobility difficulties who need the newer, larger wheelchairs. The policy affects people with disabilities in different ways.
Many disabled people receive, but cannot use, the free travel pass—because of the inaccessible public transport, especially in Dublin. If the use of the free travel pass were extended to door-to-door companies such as ACTS, it would enable those who use ACTS to have the choice to travel by door-to-door accessible van wherever they wanted, without financial hardship.
It is important to say ACTS is a voluntary transport company providing a public transport service in South County Dublin because Transport for Ireland is not providing this. Under The Transport for Ireland Initiative people can now use the free travel pass in areas that have the Rural Transport Scheme. I know this would require a change in government policy. But, if this change in policy were to happen, it would mean that many more people would be able to study, work and socialise without transport worry. I call on the government: please do not wait until somebody you know becomes disabled before you have a change of heart. Instead, open your eyes now.
Many people are in wheelchairs or have any other mobility difficulties in your areas. I am sure the political will is there if you wanted it to be. Help make Ireland even more inclusive than it already is. Help give freedom to more people who are housebound.
Many years ago, someone I knew had worked in the Department of Finance. When I knew him, he was on the Board of ACTS. He said he had to leave his government work when he acquired a progressive disability. He often said of himself that, had he known the benefits of ACTS when he was still working in Finance, he would have written a big cheque and given it to ACTS in order to support it.
As I mentioned in my last blog, ACTS, without enough support, had problems, but it has surmounted them and now continues. ACTS will continue to operate but under a new name—Dignity Ireland.