Written Answers. - Services for People with Disabilities.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin


305 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Transport the total amount of funding allocated by his Department for the provision of payments, facilities or services for those with physical or intellectual disabilities in 2003, giving the heading or sub-heading in the estimates under which the allocation has been made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19524/03]

Under the national development plan there is a pro vision of €13 million to part-finance public transport accessibility projects. Of this allocation €3.8 million was spent on accessibility projects in 2001and a further €2.15 million was spent in 2002. This expenditure related to the construction of footbridges and the installation of lifts for the mobility impaired at railway stations, upgrading bus stations to improve access for mobility impaired people and disability awareness training for staff in the CIE operating companies.

A sum of €5 million has been allocated for similar accessibility projects to be carried out in 2003 under subhead C2. Subhead C5 expenditure provides funding for investment in public transport under the NDP for Dublin and the regions. Funding for the implementation of the five-year railway safety programme, which was approved by the Government in March 1999, is also funded from subhead C5. The allocation for Subhead C5 for 2003 is €261.37 million.

It is my policy that all bus and rail public transport operators, and in particular the State-owned transport companies, should provide the highest possible degree of accessibility within the overall resources available to them. All buses purchased by both Bus Átha Cliath and Bus Éireann since 2000 for use on urban services are low floor and wheelchair accessible. Bus Átha Cliath currently has 367 low-floor buses operating in Dublin city representing almost 35% of the fleet. A total of 35 bus routes now have fully accessible services. The entire Bus Éireann urban bus fleet in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford is fully accessible and in addition 20 low-floor buses are operating on rural services.

Iarnród Éireanns DART and Arrow suburban rail services are wheelchair accessible over most of the network. The Enterprise service on the Dublin-Belfast line and all inter-city rail services using the more modern rolling stock are also accessible. The new rolling stock funded under the NDP is designed to meet the most up-to-date accessibility standards and has already begun to enter into service. All new major infrastructural projects and upgrades of stations or other facilities, funded by the NDP, are designed to meet the requirements of the mobility impaired.