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Disabled groups worried BusConnects plans will cause a 'great deal of stress'

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Whitehall resident Gary Kearney opposes the new bus proposals

Whitehall resident Gary Kearney opposes the new bus proposals

Whitehall resident Gary Kearney opposes the new bus proposals

Members from the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) believe the BusConnects network will cause a "great deal of stress" to those suffering with a disability.

Whitehall resident Gary Kearney(54), an advocate for DFI, told the Herald the NTA did not consider disability groups when planning the new system.

"It's going to create an awful lot of confusion for people with disabilities," he said.

"The NTA has made the new routes much too complicated to understand, they are incredibly difficult to get your head around, disability or not.

"Wheelchair users are also concerned that they will have to take more than one bus on a simple journey from A to B.

"They've taken routes from a lot of residential areas and are expecting people to walk longer distances to these new bus stops.

"This may be OK for an able-bodied person but would certainly be a big inconvenience for someone in a wheelchair."

Mr Kearney, who is an acquired brain injury survivor with partial deafness, said he expects the scheme will cause him a considerable amount of stress.

"I have to avoid panic situations at all costs because I can go into a very bad state if I'm overloaded with stress." he said.

Negatively

"I'm now worried that the complicated routes and drastic changes to Dublin Bus will affect me very negatively.

"Thankfully, I plan my routes accordingly and use Google Maps to get around.

"I can only imagine the challenges in store for those suffering an intellectual disability."

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) previously told the Dail Transport Committee that the elderly, people with disabilities and communities on the edge of the capital will all lose out under the new plan.

The union said the programme, aimed at correcting "perceived problems" in the network, is "wrong".

"This isolates rather than connects and the 140 million passengers carried by Dublin Bus in 2017 will be severely discommoded, possibly resulting in many additional car journeys accompanied by chronic congestion," it said in a statement to the committee in July.

"No direct buses, isolated communities, multiple buses to get to destinations that are currently served by one direct bus, are just some of the issues which will play out."

The NTA claims the numbers living within 400 metres of a bus service that operates every 10 minutes or less will increase by 35pc, from 480,000 to 650,000.

However, according to disability activist Ciaran Delaney, this distance is still far too long for the elderly and those suffering with physical disabilities.

"It may not be much to you or me, but 400 metres for an elderly person with a zimmer frame is the equivalent of doing half a marathon," he said.

"There's talk that hundreds of front gardens will be acquired by the BusConnects programme, but the NTA have not mentioned how it will impact those with disabilities.

"There's a big concern that front gardens that catered for disabled parking or wheelchair users will be dug up as part of the plan."

Mr Delaney also slammed plans to change Dublin Bus' iconic yellow and blue colour scheme when a new-look fleet hits the streets when British company Go Ahead takes over 24 routes from October.

"They've chosen a totally unsuitable blue. It will be incredibly difficult for the visually impaired people to see," he said.


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