Somerset

Wheelchair user 'not allowed' to board First bus

First Bus Image copyright First Bus
Image caption First Bus has apologised to Donald Hadfield after drivers excluded him from multiple bus journeys

A Somerset man says he wants a change in attitudes to wheelchair users after being refused entry to buses.

Donald Hadfield commutes to work each day, using the First Bus service from Ilminster to Taunton.

On three occasions in November and December he said he was told he could not board because other passengers were occupying the designated wheelchair space he would use.

First Bus has said "more work needs to be done" to train its staff.

All First buses have a clearly marked designated space for wheelchairs.

Despite this, Mr Hadfield said drivers had stopped the bus but told him that he could not embark, from his stop in Ilminster, because either a child's buggy or passenger with bags was occupying the spot.

"It causes me a great amount of stress, waiting for that bus and the thought of not being able to get on - sometimes I feel that I don't want to go out," he said.

Each time Mr Hadfield was forced to wait a further 90 minutes for another bus, making him late for work.

Image copyright Donald Hadfield
Image caption Donald Hadfield said the situation has caused him a "great amount of stress"

Ministers have pledged to improve bus access for wheelchair users, following a Supreme Court ruling in 2018.

Clearer signage saying wheelchair users have priority and powers for drivers to move people from a wheelchair space are among the measures being considered.

Alex Carter, of First Bus, said: "This is to my knowledge is the only incident that has come to the fore, so that does imply for the many journeys that we do operate it hasn't been an issue.

"But the fact it happened more than once to Mr Hadfield, we deeply apologise."

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