I found out today that a group of people in Darlington have brought legal action against Arriva bus company for disability discrimination.
The buses have been refusing to allow people in wheelchairs on because pushchairs are there; not putting the ramp down for them; telling them they will be too heavy for the ramp; not stopping for them; or giving them abuse for trying.
In one case a young man waited in the snow for the last bus of the evening, which refused to let him on. When he started to challenge it, the bus driver turned round to the passengers and told them if they let him on the battery on his chair could explode.
Pushchairs do NOT have priority. I know it’s not easy, but parents should fold their pushchair should a wheelchair need the space, as a disabled person can’t jump out of their chair and the wide space is put in specifically for disabled access, not for prams. (The exception is of course if either the child or parent is disabled themselves and so cannot do this.)
Lothian buses in Edinburgh have actually now banned non-foldable buggies (prams) and insist on them actually being folded if they get on. I can’t say I like the thought of people being left at a stop in any case, however hopefully once the policy is known about, people will make sure they purchase a foldable chair.
Certainly buses should be doing all they can to make themselves accessible for people with disabilities. Good on Darlington Association on Disability and Unity Law for fighting it!