Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport

Revised National Development Plan: Discussion

Mr. Hugh Creegan:

In terms of accessibility on buses and coaches, we have been doing a lot of work in that area in the last couple of years. On most of our urban buses, and in all of our urban buses for the last couple of years, we have a buggy space as well as a wheelchair space. We have been making the wheelchair space longer, where we been able to do that, and we have also done other things. For example, in our most recent purchase of buses, we put a second manual wheelchair ramp in the centre of those because the motorised ramp at the front door sometimes fails and that bus is then inoperative. We have had engagement with the Irish Wheelchair Association, showing them the most recent vehicles that we are purchasing and getting them to trial a number of different wheelchairs on those vehicles. That is happening.

Coaches are a bit different in that most of our coaches are high-floor and, in the past, they always had to have this complicated lift that came out from the side of the vehicle and lifted people up. For the last two or three years, we have pushed the envelope of what is available and we have purchased low-floor coaches, which we are now deploying on various routes. That allows roll-on access for people, which is much more convenient. Those are the things we are doing.

It is very hard to accommodate a second wheelchair space, which is what the Deputy is alluding to, in that we lose more seats. As we move to electric vehicles, the number of seats on our buses is going to decrease because of the space needed for batteries, and the challenge becomes even more pronounced. In general, although it is not true everywhere, buses operate with a single wheelchair space for that reason and we have to sacrifice more and more seats if we want to add additional wheelchair spaces.

On cycle tracks, in the Dublin area and across regional cities, we have a full network plan of cycle routes across the counties and the delivery of the various projects that councils are doing are aligned with those plans. We are co-ordinated across boundaries. We will never have a case where a cycle route ends up in a dead-end somewhere - that will not occur. In terms of standards and co-ordination in that space, we have a national cycle manual, which we are currently updating, and everything is designed to those standards. We reviewed the designs as part of the funding operation and we will cover it that way.


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