New Cork scheme to give those with disabilities 'confidence to use public transport' 

"It’s really, really positive for Cork and for our customers in Cork."
New Cork scheme to give those with disabilities 'confidence to use public transport' 

The TFI Travel Assistance Scheme helps people with disabilities and who have additional needs to use public transport, providing people with an opportunity to travel with independence, on their own terms. Pictured are Amy Collins, Bus Éireann travel assistant; John O'Flynn, NTA head of customer experience; Tunde Tamas, Bus Éireann driver; Allen Parker, Bus Éireann chief customer officer and Eleanor Liston, Bus Éireann travel assistant. Photograph: Gerard McCarthy

BUS ÉIREANN and the National Transport Authority (NTA) have announced the extension of the Transport for Ireland (TFI) Travel Assistance Scheme to passengers in Cork from next month, in what will be the first extension of the scheme outside of Dublin. 

The TFI Travel Assistance Scheme helps people with disabilities and who have additional needs to use public transport, providing people with an opportunity to travel with independence, on their own terms.

Under the scheme, which has operated in Dublin since 2008, an assistant can accompany passengers who need help using public transport and can give advice on how to plan their journey. 

The scheme will be operated by Bus Éireann in Cork and will be available on Bus Éireann Cork city services, Irish Rail Cork commuter services and soon, services on Local Link Cork, with funding provided by the NTA.

"We are happy to announce the extension of the TFI Travel Assistance Scheme to Cork, which aims to give people with disabilities the confidence to use public transport," Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, said. 

"The NTA are committed to improving the accessibility of bus services across Ireland and we believe that the extension of the TFI Travel Assistance Scheme to Cork will provide an opportunity for those who are not currently confident enough to use public transport, to do so in the future."

 Pictured are John O'Flynn, NTA head of customer experience; Eleanor Liston, Bus Éireann travel assistant; Amy Collins Bus Éireann travel assistant; Allen Parker, Bus Éireann chief customer officer and Tunde Tamas, Bus Éireann driver. Photograph: Gerard McCarthy
 Pictured are John O'Flynn, NTA head of customer experience; Eleanor Liston, Bus Éireann travel assistant; Amy Collins Bus Éireann travel assistant; Allen Parker, Bus Éireann chief customer officer and Tunde Tamas, Bus Éireann driver. Photograph: Gerard McCarthy

Allen Parker, chief customer officer at Bus Éireann, said the company is delighted to support the extension of the scheme. 

"We are committed to the provision of a fully accessible public transport system and all buses operating on our Cork city services are fully accessible," he said. "We believe that the TFI Travel Assistance Scheme will help our passengers in Cork connect with who and what matters to them and our newly recruited travel assistants will be on-hand Monday to Friday to support our passengers." 

Speaking to The Echo at the launch, Mr Parker said the feedback from the scheme has been "really positive" in Dublin. 

"This is the first extension outside of Dublin so it’s really, really positive for Cork and for our customers in Cork," he added. 

John O’Flynn, head of customer experience at the NTA, echoed this sentiment. 

"In Dublin, it’s helped hundreds and thousands of people over the last number of years and we hope it’s going to do the exact same in Cork," he said. 

Mr O'Flynn said disability groups were consulted in devising the scheme. 

"This came directly from our accessibility manager in the NTA who is consulting with those groups all the time," he said. 

"If it works in Cork it would be great to roll it out elsewhere as well," he said of potential plans for a further extension of the scheme. 

The TFI Travel Assistance Scheme in Cork will be available to passengers from Thursday, September 1.

The service is free of charge and is available to customers aged 18 and over, between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday by calling 0818 083 6611.

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