Saturday 15 June 2019

'It's 2019, public transport should be accessible to everyone' - disability rights campaigner claims buses are damaging wheelchairs

Karl Cretzan says the new buses are less accessible than the older vehicles they replaced
Karl Cretzan says the new buses are less accessible than the older vehicles they replaced
Karl said he finds it difficult to turn aboard the bus and that it is damaging his wheelchair
Karl said he finds it difficult to turn aboard the bus and that it is damaging his wheelchair

Callum Lavery

A DISABILITY rights campaigner has claimed that new buses in his area are damaging his wheelchair as he said “public transport should be accessible to everyone.”

Karl Cretzan (23) said that since the new buses have come into use in Waterford he has found it much more difficult to get around.

“I try to be as independent as I can. I do have a physical disability and can’t do much on my own,” Mr Cretzan told Independent.ie.

“But it's 2019, public transport should be accessible to everyone.”

Karl said he finds it difficult to turn aboard the bus and that it is damaging his wheelchair
Karl said he finds it difficult to turn aboard the bus and that it is damaging his wheelchair

Bus Eireann introduced the fleet of 17 new buses in Waterford last December.

However, wheelchair users say they’re less accessible than the older vehicles they replaced.

While the new buses comply with accessibility regulations for wheelchair users, the problem, according to Karl, is that they are harder to access due to a luggage rack that Karl finds difficult to move past.

He said he finds it difficult to turn aboard the bus and that it is damaging his wheelchair while trying to get on and off public transport.

“My foot plate, my drive stick, the light and tires - they are scraping off the side of the bus,” he said.

Currently on the committee for the Waterford Disability Network, Karl said that he knows of other wheelchairs users who find it difficult to use the new buses.

Karl's father David Cretzan said that he thinks the difficulty for Karl to access the new buses  is “incomprehensible”.

“From my point of view as a parent of a young adult with a disability, it is incomprehensible to me that nobody noticed the issues.

“It's a new fleet of buses, he should be able to get in and out in a simple manouver.

“Then to have someone trying to justify it is very disheartening. It is accessible but with the greatest of difficulty.”

The National Transport Authority (NTA) said that all the relevant steps had been taken to insure the buses were accessible to wheelchair users.

“There will always be differences in the measurements or dimensions of different vehicles, however, the critical factor is whether the buses in question comply with the relevant requirements,” a spokesperson for the NTA said.

“In that regard, NTA can confirm that all the new vehicles comply with the regulations and requirements relating to access and accessibility for wheelchair users.

“The same vehicles are also in use in other parts of the country.”

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