UK

'Pushchairs need to be on buses too'

Woman at bus stop Image copyright JUSTIN TALLIS

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that bus drivers must do more to accommodate wheelchair users.

The ruling came after wheelchair user Doug Paulley was refused entry to a FirstGroup bus in 2012 when a mother with a pushchair refused to move.

We asked bus passengers and drivers what they think.


'Pushchairs need to be on buses too'

Nicole Thomas nearly lost her place on a bus to a wheelchair user in Leeds when travelling with her three-week old baby in 2014.

"A man in a wheelchair was at the bus stop and I heard him say to the bus driver 'tell her to get off' even though I think there was room for both of us.

"The driver said he would not kick a girl off the bus and eventually the bus left the man at the stop.

"The ruling is really unfair. Pushchairs need to be on buses too - this is just stigmatising parents. We have equal need.

"Now I'm really not looking forward to getting the bus.

"If a wheelchair user wants the space, how am I supposed to fold down the pram with a two-year old, a baby and all the shopping?"


'I feel fed up and in pain'

Flash Bristow was knocked out of her wheelchair on a bus in Cambridgeshire in 2005 after a woman refused to move her buggy from the bay that had a pole designed to protect wheelchairs.

"When the bus turned a corner, my wheelchair tipped sideways and I fell on to the floor.

"It was horrible - I'd only just gained the confidence to travel alone in my wheelchair and then this accident happened.

Image copyright Flash Bristow
Image caption Flash Bristow

"Now I take minicabs from my house in Leytonstone to Stratford railway station which, at £5 each way, adds up.

"I can only travel by bus if I'm with a friend or I pay for a personal carer, but it's still awkward.

"When I get on the bus, I have to call out to ask people to move. I try to be upbeat, but I feel fed up and in pain.

"Unlike a parent with a buggy, I don't have any choice - my chair doesn't fold".


'It's not fair to leave it to the bus driver'

John Howard drives buses in Penzance, Cornwall:

"We do what we can to accommodate people but sometimes the bus is full.

"I would feel uncomfortable forcing a person with a buggy to get off.

"If a parent boards the bus with a buggy and a disabled person wants to use the same bay, I would prefer to let whoever boarded first use the space.

"It's not fair to leave it to the bus driver. Where is the person with the buggy going to sit?

"Whichever way, the bus driver is the bad guy. We are the ones at the wheel."


'What is missing is how to enforce it'

Dominic Lund-Conlon, a transport professional and a wheelchair user in Essex, says the decision by the Supreme Court does not solve the question of how to ensure everyone can travel on buses:

"We have had the judgement now but what is missing is how to enforce it.

"The transport industry needs to work out how to get everyone to the end of their journey and still be happy.

"I have had negative experiences on public transport, but they were resolved after talking to passengers.

Image copyright Dominic Lund-Conlon
Image caption Dominic Lund-Conlon

"Better signage is needed to remind passengers about the purpose of wheelchair bays, as well improved design of buses to give sufficient space to both buggies and wheelchairs.

"Other solutions include improved training for bus drivers and education for passengers about how to assist fellow travellers.

"The ruling is a step forward, but we need to make clear who is responsible for enforcement."

Produced by Georgina Rannard, BBC UGC & Social news team

More on this story