Dart stations near disability centres ‘will always be staffed’
Total of 34 railway stations currently unmanned as part of ongoing review
Sinn Féin’s John Brady highlighted potential problems at Sydney Parade Dart station in Sandymount, Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times
Dublin city centre Dart stations and those near centres for the disabled will always be staffed but Irish Rail must adapt to changing technology and customer behaviour, the Minister for Transport has said.
Shane Ross confirmed to the Dáil the ongoing review of staffing levels at railway stations but said that customers were moving to pre-paid and ticketing vending machines and this altered the pattern of use.
Thirty-four stations across the State are currently unmanned as part of the ongoing review.
Mr Ross said the planned pilot scheme to reduce the advance notice people with disabilities must give to travel on public transport from 24 hours to four hours, would commence in the new year and last six months.
He told Sinn Féin’s John Brady that “people with disabilities must be accommodated” but parallel to that, Iarnród Éireann like every service “has to continually adapt to change” in line with trends and customer behaviour “and we can’t ignore technology”.
Mr Brady warned however that the downgrading of the Dart stations to unmanned operations, would “tear up any progress that has been made” in the move to equal access for the disabled.
He asked if there had been a consultation process with disability organisations and highlighted Sydney Parade station which serves St Vincent’s University Hospital. He said the Dart was the only public transport available to people in his Wicklow constituency and disabled people would require access for the hospital.
“If Sydney Parade moves to being an unmanned station people with disabilities will be disenfranchised.”
Mr Ross said there had been extensive consultation and confirmed that Sandymount and Killester would always be staffed because of their proximity to centres for the disabled.