Wheelchair user Vicky Matthews from Lawne Close, Ballyshannon, has launched a campaign for wheelchair accessible public transport from Ballyshannon to Sligo.
Vicky (pictured) is studying a QQi level 5 in Business Administration at the local Ballyshannon ETB and is hoping to pursue a full time Applied Sports with Business Degree at Sligo Institute of Technology and was disappointed to discover that the local Bus Eireann route from Ballyshannon to Sligo was not wheelchair accessible.
In a statement Vicky said she was “very disappointed when she discovered that public transport from Ballyshannon to Sligo was not wheelchair friendly. I have made contact with Bus Eireann who said I need to notify them with 48hours notice to access a wheelchair friendly bus and I don’t feel this is acceptable as I had hoped to commute everyday to and from college.”
There are currently two buses operating the bus route from Ballyshannon to Sligo, they are the regional 480 bus and the Derry to Galway number 64 Expressway Bus. The regional 480 bus does stop near the Institute of Technology and leaves at a time where many students within the area can commute to and from college daily.
Vicky said she had spoken to a driver of a bus that displayed a wheelchair symbol and was informed that the system within the bus to lower the bus was not operational and that the footpaths at the bus station were not suitable.
Vicky said: “It’s not acceptable to only have some of the infrastructure in place such as the buses and not having the footpaths upgraded to meet the need of wheelchair users. When I travel to Dublin I can access public transport at my leisure and don’t require calling in advance as all the transport such as the Luas, and Dublin Bus are all wheelchair accessible. There are many other wheelchair users with the community and we should not be confined to a single town, we have bus passes but we can't use them. It’s not acceptable bus Eireann should clearly put in place at least a single return route that is wheelchair accessible on all routes nationwide, so wheelchair users like myself can feel part of society and have access to real equality”.
There is a online petition with over a 100 signatures and a petition circulating locally. A letter has been sent to both the Minister for Transport and Minster for State for Disability Issues to address the urgent issue.