Representatives of the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Bus Éireann are to be invited to meet Cork County Council to discuss ways that all bus services in the county can be made wheelchair-friendly.
There was unanimous support for the move after Cllr Danny Collins said the relevant groups needed to get together to ensure disabled people have the same access to public transport as the able-bodied.
The Bantry-based councillor said he had spoken to a number of wheelchair users around the county who, on many routes, have to give Bus Éireann 24 hours notice if they want to travel on a bus specially adapted for their needs.
However, he pointed out that in many cases the buses were not being made available, especially in the West Cork region.
Mr Collins said unions representing bus drivers had called for many more buses to be made wheelchair-friendly and for drivers to receive training to help wheelchair users.
He said the council had to ensure that kerbs were raised at bus stops to make it easier for wheelchair users to access and exit buses.
He spoke of one young woman living in Dunmanway who could not access such services and she had told him wheelchair-user friends, also from that area, had to relocate to Cork for college or work as they could not commute from their homes.
Cllr Joe Carroll, meanwhile, said wheelchair-bound people were also discriminated against as a result of the lack of accessible buses.
“There was a wheelchair-friendly bus stop put in in Skibbereen near the church some years ago,” he said.
“However, if you came back into town on the return journey in the evening you’d be dropped off somewhere else which doesn’t make sense. The whole thing has to be dealt with properly.”
Cllr Danielle Twomey said she’d spoken to a woman living in east Cork who could not access her college course due to the unavailability of an accessible bus.
Councillors Seamus McGrath and Kevin Murphy pointed out to Mr Collins that he also needed to invite the NTA to the talks as they basically control everything Bus Éireann did.
Mr Murphy described Mr Collins’ motion as “a no brainer”, adding that all new buses brought into service should be wheelchair-friendly.