Welsh government ‘should do more’ on access to public transport


Opposition assembly members have called on the Welsh government to improve the accessibility of public transport.
The debate followed campaigning at Welsh railway stations by members of the charity MS Cymru, who collected names for a petition demanding the government draw up a plan to improve access to trains and buses.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats brought forward the assembly debate to back the call for an action plan.
Jenny Randerson, a Liberal Democrat assembly member said too few railway stations were accessible to wheelchair-users, too many were unstaffed and too few bus operators used modern “low-floor” buses, leaving many disabled people stranded at bus-stops.
She said: “The government needs to work out which stations are the worst offenders and to tackle them first. We do not want warm words and aspirations, but a real, practical plan.”
Conservative William Graham said there was not a single railway station in south-east Wales with both wheelchair access to all platforms and accessible toilets.
Ieuan Wyn Jones, the Plaid Cymru deputy first minister and minister for the economy and transport in the Plaid Cymru/Labour coalition, agreed that action was needed to improve access.
But he said the Welsh government could not draw up an action plan, as the necessary powers lay with the Department for Transport (DfT).
He said the Welsh government was collaborating with Network Rail and the train company Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) to ensure the best use of funds under the DfT’s Access for All rail access programme.
And he said the government was working with ATW and Network Rail on the national station improvement plan, which is also upgrading access, and is funded by the Welsh government and the DfT.
He said half the stations in Wales were now fully accessible, and this proportion was “steadily increasing”.
But Liberal Democrat Peter Black accused the Welsh government of being “cowardly” for failing to draw up an action plan.
He called on them to talk to rail and bus companies and councils and put together a joint action plan and timetable for improving access.

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