Imagine this: You are ready to go out or go to work and you need to take the bus. You get to the bus stop and wait for the bus heading to your destination. Finally, it arrives after a long wait, but hang on a minute, you can’t go on that bus because you didn’t book a seat or you just can’t due to the way the bus is designed. What? Who books a seat on a bus and who on earth designs and makes a bus that you or I can’t go on? Right? Well that sounds like a plot in a dramatic movie but as crazy as this may sound or look, it’s actually what some people face almost on a daily basis just because they are wheelchair users in Ireland.
Most public buses in Ireland are wheelchair accessible and in those that are accessible, there is just one wheelchair space, which means, if there are two wheelchair users at a bus stop, one passenger will definitely be left behind, how accessible is that? Also on regional or expressway buses, seats have to be booked at least 24 hours in advance of the journey, as upto four seats need to be removed prior to the journey to make it wheelchair accessible which means in such cases travelling in an emergency or at short notice is completely out of the question for those passengers. How awful!
In an article in the Irish Examiner newspaper, it was reported that a woman could not get to college/university because the bus on her route could not take a wheelchair.
“I’ve met with people who are using walking aids, they’ve got sticks or they’re elderly and they are going ‘we don’t take the bus because we can’t get up those three steps’.
It doesn’t just affect wheelchair users, it affects lots of people in every community in Ireland.”
Public buses should be made accessible by ensuring there are enough wheelchair spaces/seats as well as wheelchair accessible bus stops. Also, every public bus should have ramps or a suspension lowering feature for getting on/off the bus so that wheelchair users, the elderly using a cane, the partially sighted or the blind with a stick, someone with poor depth perception that may struggle to get on a bus and a mother/father with a baby in a buggy can get on/off the bus without any hassle or embarrassment.
When we make little changes, a lot of people benefit from it. Accessible transportation, is it really too much to ask?