Friday, 7 September 2018
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
1093. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on an organisation's (details supplied) request that a fully wheelchair accessible transport system be provided in view of the fact it will dramatically change the lives of persons with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35767/18]
As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. My Department's high level policy goal for accessible public transport is embodied in the concept of 'Transport Access for All'. This policy is based on the provisions of the Disability Act 2005 and related Government strategies, in particular the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021.
Accessibility features, such as wheelchair access, are built into all new public transport infrastructure projects and vehicles from the design stage. Newer systems such as LUAS are fully accessible.
My Department funds an ongoing programme of accessibility improvement grants to upgrade older existing infrastructure and facilities which is managed by the National Transport Authority (NTA). In Budget 2018 I secured a trebling of the funding provided for the accessibility retro-fit programme to €28m, as part of the 4 year capital envelope announced. This additional funding will facilitate the continued roll-out of the programmes to install accessible bus stops, upgrade train stations to make them accessible to wheelchair users and provide grant support for the introduction of more wheelchair accessible vehicles into the taxi fleet.
Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 the NTA has functional responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network, as well as having responsibility for the management of the accessibility retro-fit programme. The NTA has provided information on (i) the accessibility status of existing public transport infrastructure, (ii) the cost of making public transport services wheelchair accessible and (iii) the accessibility improvements planned with the available funding for the 4 year period 2018-2021 under the retro-fit programme. That information is available on my Department's website www.dttas.gov.ie.
Investment in public transport will be accelerated under the National Development Plan (NDP) over the next ten years and beyond to support the development of an integrated, accessible and sustainable national public transport system. A number of key new major public transport programmes are proposed to be delivered under the NDP over the period to 2027 and these will be fully accessible as part of the normal design. In addition, there will be continued investment in the retro-fit programme under the NDP.
I would like to advise the Deputy that the organisation to which he refers is represented on my Department's Accessibility Consultative Committee, which monitors progress in relation to accessible public transport for people with disabilities.
In addition, I recently appointed to the Boards of the public transport companies, new directors with direct personal experience of disability. One of these new directors is also a member of the organisation to which the Deputy refers. I look forward to all 5 new directors ensuring that the voices of people with a disability will be heard at the top of those bodies responsible for the provision of public transport.