A WEST Cork beauty therapist and wheelchair user has been refused access to public transport in the area as a result of her disability.
Sarah Dullea, who overcame the limitations of spina bifida to set up her freelance business, Sarah’s Art of Beauty, penned a letter to Bus Éireann after being refused service due to accessibility issues.
The 22-year-old from Dunmanway was disheartened to learn that Bus Éireann was unable to cater for wheelchair users in the West Cork area. This has restricted Sarah when it comes to travelling for jobs in the city.
“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,” she said.
The beautician said that while she is able to drive, parking in the city can often be an issue.
She spoke of how public transport would facilitate her work as a volunteer in the Crann Centre, Ballincollig, a facility supporting those with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. I travel to the Crann centre a lot. I do the work for free, but it’s been a great help in promoting my business and has led to paid work.”
The Dunmanway local hopes to see a wider representation of people with disabilities in the industry in the future. “It would be nice to see people getting more opportunities. I’ve never really seen people with disabilities working in shops or beauty salons. A lot of younger girls in Crann are seeing me doing what I do who are now interested in pursuing a career in beauty too,” she said.
In a statement, Bus Éireann said: “All Bus Éireann city services are low floor and 100% wheelchair accessible. Bus Éireann route 236 is, however, a rural service that operates between Bantry, Dunmanway and Cork, with a different type of vehicle and is not identified as a wheelchair accessible route.
“Many parameters must be considered prior to a route being allocated wheelchair accessible friendly. This involves the infrastructure of the bus stop which includes the width and length of the stop, along with the camber of the footpath and the camber of the road as the bus needs to be level for the lift on the coach to operate safely.”
"Bus Éireann will continue to work with stakeholders – including Cork County Council and the National Transport Authority (NTA) in order to address some of these particular issues in Cork. We continue to work on a programme of more wheelchair accessible services across our Nationwide network.”