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Thursday 2 October 2014

Wheelchair user turned away from both Dart and bus

Laura Larkin

Published 13/08/2014 | 08:05

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12 Aug 2014; Aideen Horan. Bewleys Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
12 Aug 2014; Aideen Horan. Bewleys Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
12 Aug 2014; Aideen Horan. Bewleys Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
12 Aug 2014; Aideen Horan. Bewleys Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

A YOUNG wheelchair user was left stranded on her way to college after she was unable to board both a train and a bus in Dublin.

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Irish Rail has apologised after Aideen Horan (23), who is a student at UCD’s Blackrock campus, could not get on a train at Sydney Parade due to a lack of staff at the station to assist her.

The business student left the station and tried to get a bus instead, but was left sitting at the bus stop after a driver told her the wheelchair ramp wasn’t working.

Aideen, who has cerebral palsy, took to social media to express her anger.

She claimed that services have deteriorated in the last few years as money troubles cause staff shortages in Dart stations.

After her attempt to board a Dart was unsuccessful, she was left with no choice but to catch the bus.

Aideen told the Herald that when it pulled up at the stop  the driver told her “ramp’s broken” and closed the door.

“If a door on the bus was broken and people couldn’t get on, it wouldn’t leave the station but they’ll send one out with a broken ramp,” Aideen said. “I know we’re the minority but we still deserve to use the bus.”

Aideen had to return home and ask her roommate to accompany her on the train.

“I can’t rely on the goodwill of people and I shouldn’t have to,” she said, adding that last week’s incident was not a once-off.

The Ballinasloe native said she has also lived in Germany and Spain and travelled the West Coast of America and that Dublin’s rating as an accessible city doesn’t measure up.

“I love Dublin but for a capital city it’s not great for getting around,” she said.

Aideen lodged a complaint with Irish Rail when she had similar problems last year.

In their response, the company cited financial constraints as the reason for the lack of available staff to help.

Irish Rail also directed her to a disability assistance helpline to arrange someone to help her at the station, but she said that solution wasn’t an option for her when she is on her own.

Last night a spokesman apologised for the latest incident and again highlighted the company’s helpline. However, Aideen said: “I can’t use my phone when I’m out and about so their solution is useless.”

Independence

Broken lifts at stations are also an issue and sometimes she has to travel an extra stop to cross over and come back if a lift isn’t working.

“It’s called public transport for a reason and if it’s not accessible then I lose my independence,” she said.

“What happens when I get a job and it really won’t be acceptable for me to be late on a regular basis?” she asked.

“I am not looking for special treatment. I’m independent like everyone else, I just sit in a chair all day,” she said.

A Dublin Bus spokesperson apologised for the broken ramp and said the company will investigate the incident.

hnews@herald.ie

Irish Independent

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