Belfast Telegraph

Kennedy welcomes year of achievements in making transport more accessible

Stormont Executive press release - Department for Regional Development

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy has welcomed the achievements made in 2012/13 to make public transport more accessible to older people and people with disabilities.

The Minister was speaking on the publication of the first year monitoring report of his Department’s Accessible Transport Strategy Action Plan.

The Minister said: “I welcome the progress that has been made in the first year of the three year Action Plan, which I published in 2012. Against a backdrop of budget constraints, I am pleased to report that my Department continues to strive towards the removal of barriers that impede disabled people and older people from travel and transport services.

“This Action Plan follows on from the success of earlier plans in delivering the Accessible Transport Strategy. I will continue to seek opportunities for funding which will further enhance delivery of the Action Plan over the next two years.”

Some notable achievements in the first year are;

· Further investment in the Translink bus fleet, in the region of £30million, has enabled the introduction of 143 new fully wheelchair accessible buses.

· There were 20 new trains brought into operation, at a cost of £114million. All of the new trains are fully compliant with Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations.

· The Department for Regional Development, in conjunction with Guide Dogs and Translink, completed a successful pilot project to introduce audio visual information systems on Metro services in Belfast. The Department is seeking funding to install the systems on all Translink buses.

· The redevelopment of the Antrim Bus and Rail Station and Portadown Rail Station has provided new facilities to assist travel by people with disabilities.

Notes to editors:

1. A copy of the Accessible Transport Strategy Action Plan 2012-2015 is available from the Department’s website at http://www.drdni.gov.uk/sustainable_transport_branch

2. This action plan is the fourth in a series of action plans to implement the Accessible Transport Strategy, published in 2005. This was a 10 year strategy to address the barriers that impede the use of the public transport system by older people and people with disabilities.

3. Previous action plans focussed on investment in public transport infrastructure, provision of specialist transport services, improvements to rural transport and tackling cost barriers to using public transport through enhancement of the concessionary fares scheme.

4. Since 2005 there has been significant investment in the Translink network with the introduction of over 1,000 new buses and 43 new trains. As a result, 95% of buses and 100% of trains are now fully accessible by people with disabilities.

5. Improvements have been made to bus and rail stations to make them more accessible and to the pedestrian environments of town and city centres.

6. The priority for the Action Plan for 2012-2015 is to further reduce the remaining physical and psychological barriers to the use of transport by people with mental health and learning disabilities and older people.

7. The first year monitoring report is available on http://www.drdni.gov.uk/sustainable_transport_branch hard copies and copies in other formats are also available and can be obtained by contacting 028 9054 0468 or email: atsinfo@drdni.gov.uk

8. Photos are available from the Department of Regional Development collection at http://www.flickr.com/niexecutive

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