People with disabilities are entitled to a range of entitlements, supports and assistance when travelling. Following last month’s article on Free Travel Pass and the Companion Pass, I have covered the other main entitlements below with regards to transport and disabilities.
The National Disability Authority (NDA) has produced guidelines for Public Transport Operators in Ireland to help bus, rail and light rail operators in Ireland make their services more accessible to passengers with disabilities. Iarnród Éireann has produced a guide which is free of charge at stations and can be downloaded from www.irishrail.ie. It offers advice and also provides information on facilities available at each station.
Dublin Bus has a travel assistance scheme. The scheme helps people with disabilities to build confidence to use the service by themselves. Trained travel assistants accompany you on your journey for the first few times you use the service. The scheme is available to anyone over the age of 18 who would like to use public transport but needs assistance and information in order to use it independently. The service is also free.
Having a medical condition or disability does not mean you cannot or will not be allowed to drive. You may have to complete a medical report if you have certain disabilities and want to drive. There are also various supports including special provisions for drivers with disabilities while taking driving tests.
You are asked on your driving test application form to outline whether you are driving an adapted vehicle. This will ensure that any necessary arrangements are in place for you on the day of your test.
Disability Passenger Scheme
Tax relief is available to buy an adapted vehicle for the purpose of transporting your special needs child. If you qualify, you can also claim repayment of excise duty on fuel used in your vehicle, up to a maximum of 600 gallons per year. The conditions for qualifying are strict and do have written confirmation before you make a purchase. A primary medical certificate is your first step.
Disabled Parking Card
The Disabled Person’s Parking Card is for drivers or passengers with disabilities. Card holders can park in disabled parking spaces. The card is mostly for people whose disability affects their mobility and who currently hold a Primary Medical Certificate.
Toll Road Charges
Disabled drivers and disabled passengers with specially adapted vehicles are exempt from toll charges on national roads throughout Ireland. A toll is a levy on each vehicle that passes through a designated toll road. Just to clarify it is the vehicle that is exempt and if a disable passenger travels in another car then all tolls have to be paid.
Mobility Allowance Scheme & Motorised Transport Grant
The Government has closed these schemes to all new applicants and are now seeking a different solution that remains within the available budget and satisfying all legal concerns. Pending this decision on a new scheme, monthly payments will continue to be made by the Health Service Executive to people who were in receipt of the grant or allowance at the time that the schemes closed.
All people with a disability who just missed out because of the closure of the scheme in February 2013 are still waiting.