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Minister says he can't intervene over wheelchair accessible bus for Donegal woman

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Vicky highlights bus route issues

Vicky Matthews has started a petition to have a wheelchair accessible bus service from Donegal town to Sligo

The Minister for Transport Shane Ross told the Dáil he cannot intervene in the case of a Donegal woman who has launched a campaign for wheelchair accessible public transport from Donegal to Sligo.

Vicky Matthews plans to continue her studies at Sligo Institute of Technology have been put in jeopardy due to the lack of a wheelchair accessible bus service from Ballyshannon to Sligo.

Ms Matthews is studying at the  Ballyshannon ETB and is hoping to pursue a full-time course at Sligo IT. She has discovered that the local Bus Éireann route from Ballyshannon to Sligo is not wheelchair accessible.

She has collected over 4,000 signatures on a petition to have a wheelchair accessible bus service on the 480 route between Donegal town and Sligo.

Mr Ross said this week that it is not within his power to change the type of bus used on the route. He was speaking after the issue was raised in the Dáil by Deputy Martin Kenny.

Addressing the Dáil Mr Kenny said Bus Éireann has said it is moving toward a situation where transport will be accessible to all.

“To do that properly it needs, in as many places as possible, particularly relatively short routes, such as the one from Donegal to Sligo, to use the buses with low access. When the bus pulls in a short ramp comes out and the person with the wheelchair is on the bus very quickly.

“That is the model we need to see in most places. Bus Éireann in Sligo tells me it has several buses doing that but they are not allocated to that route and it says it does not allocate the buses to the routes, that is done by the National Transport Authority, NTA. That is a disconnect that needs to be resolved.”

In reply, the minister said he is not involved in the day to day operations of public transport.

“This is a very good and suitable forum for the Deputy to bring up the case but he would not expect me to say that I will move and do something with the 480 route between Donegal town and Sligo, including access to Sligo Institute of Technology, this evening.

“ It is not something which is either within my power or would be possible for me to do. What the Deputy has done is to highlight the case which is there, as well as others, who are undoubtedly in the same boat. I have explained to the House previously that under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, the NTA has statutory responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network.”

READ MORE: Donegal woman Vicky Matthews launches wheelchair accessible campaign for bus route