26/10/2004

Transport plan for disabled and older people outlined

A new strategy that aims to improve Northern Ireland’s transport system for older people and people with disabilities has been published today.

The Department for Regional Development's (DRD) draft Accessible Transport Strategy (ATS) aims to tackle barriers currently affecting both groups including access to public transport, passenger assistance and information.

John Spellar, Minister for Regional Development, said that a "whole of journey" approach was at the heart of the development of an accessible transport network.

“If older people and people with disabilities are to have confidence in an accessible transport system it is imperative that services are reliable and delivered in a consistent way,” the Minister said.

“When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, there must be procedures in place to allow passengers to complete their journey without undue inconvenience.”

The prospects for an accessible transport future have been greatly enhanced through the introduction of accessibility regulations, which were brought about by the Disability Discrimination Act, the Minister said.

“New buses and trains must now meet standards that are designed to ensure that people with disabilities can get on and off vehicles in safety and without unreasonable difficulty and, in the case of wheelchair users, to do so whilst remaining in their wheelchairs,” he added.

The consultation period for the draft ATS will end on 19 January 2005 and the department aims to publish the final document by March 2005.

(MB/GMCG)

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