Minister Shane Ross today (26th June 2019) announced that the National Transport Authority (NTA) is to provide funding for the development by the NCBI (National Council for the Blind Ireland) of a National Transport Training Centre (NTTC) which will provide training and familiarisation across all public transport modes. Minister Ross made the announcement as part of today’s Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport on the accessibility of public transport for people with disabilities.
Minister Ross said “This facility will empower and prepare those with accessibility needs to confidently use public transport. I hope this state-of-the-art centre will give confidence to those who might otherwise hesitate before using their local bus, train or tram.”
The NCBI developed the proposals for the construction of the NTTC which will be the world’s largest and most extensive training centres, supporting not only individual and group training opportunities, but additionally supporting user and design testing, increasing public awareness, and informing standardisation and consistency in public transport accessibility.
The primary goal of the NTTC is to provide short-term comprehensive instruction, designed to teach people with disabilities how to travel safely and independently using public transportation. Full size replicas of bus, train and tram vehicles will be used to familiarise users with how to safely and confidently use these modes on a day-to-day basis. Examples of road junction crossings and on-street pedestrian facilities will also be available. Training will also extend to transport agency staff and other key stakeholders.
Chris White, NCBI CEO, said “We are delighted to be working with the NTA around the development of a National Transport Training Centre. There is a strong need for such a centre to educate, train and trial ways to improve public transport for all people with disabilities not just those with a visual impairment. We will be in a stronger position in a few weeks’ time to outline the location, facilities and details involved in the National Transport Training Centre.”
Funding for the development will be provided under the Accessibility Programme operated by the NTA on behalf of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and it is expected that the development work on the centre will be completed during next year.
Notes to Editor:
- Copy of Minister Ross’ opening statement to today’s Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport is available in the attached.
Statistic on Public Transport Accessibility:
- Funding for retro-fitting of old infrastructure to make it accessible has trebled to €28m between 2018 and 2021, e.g. trains stations, bus stops in rural areas, wheelchair taxis.
- Funding for the programme will increase from €4m in 2018 to €7m in 2019.
- In 2018, 205 PSO accessible buses were purchased for the Dublin Region - 141 buses for Dublin Bus and 64 buses for Go Ahead.
- 50% of the Dublin Bus fleet now has a space for both a wheelchair user and a buggy and this figure will rise to 100% as the fleet is replaced.
Rural and regional bus
- 86% of Bus Éireann’s coach fleet is wheelchair accessible by lift (increased from 80% in 2018) and this will increase as the coach fleet is replaced.
- In 2018, 83 new accessible buses were purchased for the Bus Éireann PSO fleet.
- 52 new low floor buses for regional commuter services will be introduced this year, eliminating the pre-booking requirement for wheelchair users.
- Number of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) increased from 3% in 2014 to 12% at end May 2019 - this is the highest level ever of WAVs in the taxi fleet.
- Over 900 applications under WAV Grant Scheme received to end May 2019 – 90% have received provisional grant offers from the NTA.
- Advance notice requirement reduced from 24 to 4 hours for DART, Northern and Northern line services.
- 80% of Local Link buses are wheelchair accessible – NTA commitment to at least 95% by end of 2020.