'It's ridiculous that people in wheelchairs can't get the bus'

'It's ridiculous that people in wheelchairs can't get the bus'
Sarah Dullea has previously spoken out about her difficulties with the bus service. Picture: John Delea.

WEST Cork still without bus routes that are accessible for wheelchair users despite years of campaigning by disability rights activists. 

The 236 bus route is inaccessible for wheelchair users, as well as people with mobility issues.

This is because the bus stops along this route cannot facilitate wheelchair ramps.

Evie Nevin from Clonakilty, a public speaker and disability rights activist, says she has been fighting this fight for years.

"There are two accessible bus stops on the route but only in Skibbereen, but these are pointless because the route is not fully accessible."

Ms Nevin points out there is a high number of people in West Cork living with mobility issues that make it difficult for them to climb up the steps of a bus. 

"The CSO shows that of the 11,000 people living with disabilities in West Cork, almost 5,000 of them have difficulty with activities such as climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying."

The activist also mentions how West Cork is a popular tourist destination. 

"It is ridiculous that people in wheelchairs can't get to Clonakilty on the bus."."

Ms Nevin ran in the local elections in May as a Social Democrat candidate but did not secure a seat. 

"I am getting calls from people, asking for help. I gladly help them, but I am unelected. I have reached out to elected politicians and asked could they bring it up in Council. Nothing has been done."

The Clonakilty native says that they are not asking for special treatment, they are asking for a level playing field. 

"It's all doable. 13% of the population lives with a disability, but we are not a priority, we are a minority."

Ms Nevin is personally affected by this issue because she has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a complex connective tissue disorder which can result in chronic pain. 

People with EDS sometimes use a cane or wheelchair, and Ms Nevin is one of them. 

"This affects me, and it might affect my children too because EDS is a genetic condition."

"It's 2019, to not have accessible public transport is really unacceptable."

Bus Éireann said in a statement that the 236 route is not accessible due to the bus stops not being wheelchair-friendly.

"The Route 236 operates from Glengarriff to Cork via Bantry / Drimoleague / Dunmanway / Enniskeane / Bandon and Innishannon – unfortunately, the bus stops along this route are currently not suitable for wheelchair accessible coaches.

"All city and town services operated by Bus Éireann have low floor wheelchair accessible buses and are 100% accessible. At the end of 2018, the overall percentage of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the Bus Éireann service fleet was 92%, however, this is limited due to constraints regarding accessible infrastructure at bus stops.

"This infrastructure is the responsibility of both the National Transport Authority (NTA) and the local authority and we continue to work with them to ensure more wheelchair-accessible services across our nationwide network."

Last year, West Cork beauty therapist and wheelchair user Sarah Dullea, who overcame the limitations of spina bifida to set up her freelance business, told The Echo of her difficulties with the bus service.

"This is difficult to understand. If the people making these decisions were in this position or had family members with disabilities they might sit and think a little harder about this."

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