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'Everyday bus users are refusing to fold up their buggies to allow wheelchair users on board'

The transport committee was told that new regulations are needed to force people to fold up their prams.

Image: Sam Boal

EVERYDAY PEOPLE ARE refusing to fold up their prams on Dublin Bus to allow wheelchair users on board, according to Dublin Bus worker director Stephen Hannan.

Speaking before the Oireachtas Transport Committee this week, the member of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) called for new rules or legislation to be introduced to make it mandatory for buggy users to fold up their prams and make space for wheelchair users.

The union was in front of the committee this week to discuss the new BusConnects plan – the radical redesign for the Dublin Bus route network.

Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority (NTA), said the new plan will be “vastly beneficial for the greater Dublin area”.

However, she did admit that some people will have to change buses to get to their destination. She said this measure will ensure people will be able to get to their destination in shorter overall trip time.

However, members of the NBRU were critical of the plan, stating that bus users will be severely discommoded.

Head of the union, Dermot O’Leary said that while 100% of the Dublin Bus fleet is wheelchair accessible, the fact some users will have to change buses and get on to another bus during their journey will be difficult for disabled people.

Commuters refusing to fold up buggies

Hannan told the committee that while it is great that the fleet is now fully accessible, wheelchair users are not able to get on the bus due to people not folding down their prams.

He called for new regulations or possibly legislation to force commuters to fold down their buggy to make room on the bus for wheelchair users.

“What is the use in having wheelchair accessible buses if the wheelchair people, disabled people can’t use them,” Hannan told the committee, adding:

I am going through this every day of the week – people are not listening to me. A person there in a wheelchair tries to get on and there are two people with prams that refuse to fold up the prams because they don’t have to. The people can’t access these buses.
That is how simple that is. They should be made fold the prams – whether it takes legislation or not to do this something needs to be done to protect the disabled people.

Turned away 

Earlier this year, the case on one wheelchair user being turned away because the priority space on the bus was taken by a woman with a buggy was highlighted by TheJournal.ie.

The incident happened on the number 13 bus at Ballymun Shopping Centre on the city’s northside.

54-year-old Caroline O’Leary told TheJournal.ie that when she told the bus driver that she should have priority, he insisted that she shouldn’t.

I was on the left of the doors and the girl with the buggy was on the other side. Immediately the bus stopped she pushed her way on and took up the wheelchair space. The driver then told me he was sorry, but there was no room.
I told him that I should have priority and he told me that I don’t. Then he shut the doors.
Five seconds later he opened them again, just as it was starting to rain, and asked me if I wanted to speak to his controller. We told him to drive on and stop annoying us.
He insisted that “there’s nothing physically I can do about it”, so I presume the woman must have refused to move.
Dublin Bus said wheelchair users have priority over everyone else for the use of the wheelchair space as this is the only place in which they can travel safely.
A spokeswoman told TheJournal.ie:
However, if a wheelchair user wishes to board a bus and there is an unfolded buggy in this space, the driver will request the buggy owner to fold their buggy but cannot compel them to fold them.
We regularly run poster campaigns on all buses in our fleet to highlight to all customers that this space is a dedicated space for wheelchair users.

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