The National Transport Authority has announced it is to add 40 new wheelchair accessible buses to rural routes including Donegal.
The news has been welcomed by local disability campaigner Vicky Matthew who has been campaigning for a route from Ballyshannon in recent months.
The Donegal woman had launched a petition calling for routes to be updated and is due to hand it to TDs at Leinster House next week.
Vicky had revealed how she would be prevented from attending college in Sligo from September
She told him she aims to attend college in Sligo in September if Bus Éireann could not provide a wheelchair-accessible bus from Ballyshannon.
However, the NTA has now revealed that 40 new wheelchair accessible buses are to be rolled out – the first of which comes to Donegal in August.
The buses are due to be delivered by August. The NTA said Bus Éireann is also working on a ‘number of accessibility projects nationwide.’
Ms Matthew told Newstalk: “This means that me personally, I am going to be able to go to college,” she said.
“But it doesn’t stop here. The petition is for wheelchair-accessible public buses on all routes nationwide so next week, I will be going up to the Dáil to hand this to the Minister for Transport.”
She thanked everybody who has been involved with her campaign and signed or shared her petition.
She said the campaign helped her raise her voice to “be heard that wheelchair accessible buses are a basic human right.”
“I am grateful,” she said. “Today is a big step forward for people with disabilities getting the services they need.”
“Please keep signing and sharing the petition. I will keep campaigning until every wheelchair user in the country is able to access public buses but today is a victory.
“Thank you everybody.”
The change has been welcomed by Donegal Deputy Thomas Pringle and Independent candidate for Donegal Electoral Area Valerie McNulty.
Deputy Pringle said: “I’m delighted to see that after much campaigning particularly by activist Vicky Mathews that Bus Eireann have finally responded to the needs of people with disabilities. This is an important development as people with disabilities who live in rural Ireland suffer disproportionately from a lack of public transport.”
Valerie McNulty also welcomed the news saying: “I worked hard alongside Thomas Pringle to get an answer from the relevant authorities for a number of months now on this issue. This move is setting a precedent for other areas to follow so that all barriers for people will disabilities can be removed.”
“I look forward to the rolling out of the buses this August in time for the start of the new college year and will keep the issue of accessible transport on the agenda going forward” concluded McNulty.