Report highlights rural transport problems

Access to transport, particularly in rural areas, is a huge problem for many people around the country according to a new report today.

The report by the Citizens Information Board highlights the limitations of access to transport and mobility support schemes.

The body is calling on the Government to take a more integrated approach when dealing with the issue.

“The report clearly indicates the difficulties experienced by people with the range of transport and mobility support schemes and is based on direct feedback from the public through our nationwide network of Citizens Information Services and Disability Advocacy projects," said CIB Chief Executive Tony McQuinn.

"It shows the importance of building a service based around the needs of the public rather than a multiplicity of parallel and fragmented support initiatives, frequently operating independently of one another, that lose sight of the needs of the end user.”

Launching the report today, Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin admitted that this area needs attention.

"This report will enable us to see where are the gaps," Minister Hanafin said. "And will certainly be used by all departments in trying to identify them."

Entitled "Getting There: Transport and Access to Social Services", the report highlights a number of issues including:

- Lack of public transport in many rural areas and inability in some cases to avail of ‘free travel’;

- The continuing poor accessibility of some public transport, particularly outside the main cities;

- Limitations of current transport and mobility support schemes;

- Difficulties in getting transport to and from hospital services;

- A heavy reliance on Supplementary Welfare Allowance Exceptional Needs Payments to cover the costs of transport to and from hospitals;

- Transport and the cost of disability; people with disabilities regularly incur taxi costs in accessing services;

- Impact of lack of appropriate transport on people with disabilities taking up employment or training opportunities;

- Difficulties experienced by some people in accessing information about public transport options and transport supports.

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