Interesting - Bus Company on wheelchair/Pram spaces..

(1000 Posts)
Bathsheba Tue 01-Jan-13 15:39:53

Yes -that old chestnut.

The Chair of the NCT has posted a letter on her facebook page (and has asked for it to be shared so I doubt any problems with doing this) from a bus company's solicitor - the bus company are being accused of being disabalist in not insisting that parents fold down prams/Get off etc. I've posted the info from the bus company below and will happily post a link to this thread on the facebook page as they have been asked to garner as many opinions as possible.

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I write further to our recent telephone conversation. As I explained, we are solicitors acting for Arriva North East Limited, which runs bus services in the North East. Arriva is currently involved in a court case brought by a number of disabled passengers. They are alleging that Arriva has discriminated against them because of its policy on use of the wheelchair space by parents with buggies. The court case is very important as it is likely to decide how wheelchair spaces in buses and trains across the UK can be used in future. Arriva’s policy is that drivers will ask parents with buggies to fold them down if a wheelchair user wishes to board the bus, but if parents cannot fold down the buggy or refuse to do so, they will not be forced to. Arriva believes that its policy is in line with the government guidelines and aims to minimise conflicts between passengers by striking a balance between the competing rights of parents with young children and disabled people to use the wheelchair space. The people bringing the claim have proposed various changes to this policy, to ensure that wheelchair users have absolute priority over the space – the proposed changes are listed below. Arriva is obviously concerned about the impact of these proposed changes on parents of young children and their ability to use public transport. Arriva has been given until 28 January 2013 to gather evidence on the potential impacts of these changes. We would be very interested in hearing your members’ views and experiences on the practical impact of the proposed changes on parents of young children. I would be very grateful if your members could respond directly to me with their views by 18 January 2013.

Proposed changes:-

1. Prohibit prams on board
2. Get drivers to ask passengers to fold down their buggies before they board the bus.
3. Get drivers to warn passengers each time they board the bus that they will have to fold their buggies and/or vacate the bus if a wheelchair user wishes to board.
4. Offer passengers with buggies onwards tickets if a wheelchair user wishes to board and buggy cannot be folded down.
5. Refuse access to buggies, prams and pushchairs which cannot be folded.
6. Refuse to continue the bus journey until the passenger with the buggy moves from the wheelchair space.
7. Insist the passenger with the buggy leaves the bus if a wheelchair user wishes to board and buggy cannot be folded down.

Kind regards,
Adam
Adam Hedley
Solicitor
(contact details follow but I thought best to remove them - Bathsheba)

manicbmc Tue 01-Jan-13 15:43:46

Not this old chestnut again.

Fwiw - Stagecoach NE have signs which state very clearly that people in wheelchairs always take priority over pushchairs and that is how it should be and is in law.

HollyBerryBush Tue 01-Jan-13 15:44:29

I never say this but - your AIBU is what?

Bathsheba Tue 01-Jan-13 15:45:22

Sorry - I popped it in here as this is where the vast majority of the previous conversations about this subject have been had..

itsmineitsmine Tue 01-Jan-13 15:46:33

I guess if you knew they were the rules then as a regular bus user you would have to ensure you bought a lightweigh one handedmfold buggy...can you put newborbs in those though? Sounds like a bit of a nightmare with twins or newborn and toddler though..

needsadviceplease Tue 01-Jan-13 15:47:47

Are there seriously people who refuse to fold their buggy when a wheelchair user wants to get on?

Seriously?

Sirzy Tue 01-Jan-13 15:48:08

I agree that prams should be told to either fold or get off.

Unfortunatly although in practise that should happen it is hard to enforce with the "world revolves around my child" type parent

manicbmc Tue 01-Jan-13 15:48:12

When my twins were little there were no pushchair spaces. I walked. 3 miles through a blizzard once to get to a hospital appointment.

Sometimes life is tough.

Boomerwang Tue 01-Jan-13 15:48:23

Please don't jump on me for asking this question, but don't wheelchair users receive travel expenses so that they can use a taxi?

I was in London this weekend, and the buses had signs up saying the wheelchairs had priority and asking people with buggies to move if a wheelchair user got on the bus. I was pleased to see these signs but I wonder how the rules (or suggestion) is enforced.

If I remember correctly, the only reason buses have wheelchair spaces in the first place is that disabled groups campaigned for them. Not buggy users, wheelchair users. And now not only have parents with buggies have leaped into these spaces (which is understandable if no person in a wheelchair is using it) but are refusing to move when asked to do so. They are wheelchair spaces. The letter above even refers to them as such. They are NOT buggy spaces.

I can understand the frustration of having to move a sleeping baby/toddler out of a buggy, fold it down and move. But it pales in comparison to the frustration of a disabled person trying to use public transport.

Why this is even an issue is baffling to me. The spaces were put there for wheelchair users. I think that all those proposed changes sound absolutely valid. Buggy users who won't move should be bodily thrown off buses IMO.

For me number 4 makes most sense and as a bus pass holder I always offer to wait for next bus as the disabled person takes priority in my mind as you do not pay for under 5's and the spaces are made for wheelchair users. It can be awkward if you are already in the space but when I had dd I knew I would need to get on and off of buses so chose a pushchair that was suitable

Sirzy Tue 01-Jan-13 15:49:38

Yes you can get mclaren type prams which fully recline and are suitable from birth.

It may be hard if you have more than one child but with help from others on the bus it's possible. If your wheelchair bound you don't have that ease.

Sirzy Tue 01-Jan-13 15:50:24

No boomerwang they don't

itsmineitsmine Tue 01-Jan-13 15:51:49

blush sirzy, ive just remembered i had a maclaren twin techno that was suitable from birth. Ditto my petite star zia, had just forgotten the baby days!

Boomerwang, the disabled are having every benefit systematically stripped from them by the heartless idiots currently running the country. Many live in dire poverty. No, they do not get money for taxis.

Boomerwang Tue 01-Jan-13 15:52:40

I would have trouble folding down my buggy. It's quite chunky. I can't do it with one hand, where would I put my 9 month old? I'm not unwilling to do it, in fact I'd go and buy one of those superlight pushchairs to make it easier for myself. I'd have to hold on to my purse and baby bag and whatever shopping I'd got...

I'd get off the bus, even though they only run every half hour here. I'd just walk the bus route until the next one was due I suppose!

At least I can walk. I'm thankful for that.

Boomerwang Tue 01-Jan-13 15:54:01

Sorry about asking that question, just that I knew several service users who were given extra money for travel expenses and they didn't even use a wheelchair.

TeWisBeenNargledByTheMistletoe Tue 01-Jan-13 15:54:26

Yes you get several different foldable buggies for newborns, off the top of my head silvercross pop even has a double version which umbrella folds, and is good value.

I knew I would use the bus a lot, so did my research and bought the right pushchair.

I am totally 100% with the wheelchair users BTW, and wish them success with their campaign.

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 01-Jan-13 15:54:47

All buggies used on public transport should be able to be folded, people in wheelchairs should be able to use the space provided without argument or dispute.
Their priority should be enforced by the driver.
If you can't manage your children under those restrictions, then you should use alternative forms of transport. Perhaps use CB for taxis?

RunnerHasbeen Tue 01-Jan-13 15:55:33

How about proposing that new buses have buggy spaces as well. There will also need to be a system in place to make certain exceptions - for example, a pushchair for a child requiring breathing apparatus should be classed as a wheelchair and some thought concerning parents with mild disabilities that make folding difficult (arthritis in hands, one arm etc.) Lothian buses, who used to be too strict on buggies, had such a system and now has buggy spaces and everyone seems to get along together just fine.

itsmineitsmine Tue 01-Jan-13 15:55:41

I think the key is preparation - if you know these are the rules you get a lightweight buggy and a light sling or baby carrier. You get to the bus stop early and put the baby in the carrier and fold the buggy ready to get on thr bus. You shop online rather thsn carry heavy shopping.

"but don't wheelchair users receive travel expenses so that they can use a taxi"

No they don't and disability benefits are getting tougher, having a wheelchair means that you can lose some of your mobility entitlement.

I take my Mum out in her wheelchair, it is able bodied people who are the problem, taking up the seats at the front, when there are seats available further back.

I caused a couple to get off the bus and shut a few people up when a disabled man couldn't sit down and the buggy took up the space, when the child of about 3 was sitting on a seat next to the father.

We need leglislation because people are shits, not because it is a massive dilemma.

I am in my 40's and can remember the introduction on accessable buses/buildings, it was after the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act (1995).

We now need an upto date transport stategy which allows for people who are disabled and young parents, but in truth only with babies under 6 months old.

SirBoobAlot Tue 01-Jan-13 16:04:53

I can't fold my buggy, because I'm disabled. Which is the same reason I cannot use a sling, or have DS sat on my knee.

I think prohibiting prams on board would be atrocious. I say that as both a parent with a buggy, and a wheelchair user. Passengers who can fold their buggies before getting on, should. If a buggy isn't able to be folded, and a wheelchair is getting on, then the buggy should get off. On our local buses there are seven folded seats. Three buggies are allowed, or two and a wheelchair. I have got off a bus before because other selfish parents would not fold up their buggies - they were perfectly capable of doing so, just chose to ignore it.

Locally we are lucky because there is enough space for both buggies and a wheelchair on the buses, but even then it is still terrible at times.

I can see this from both sides as I have 2 small children and mobility problems (although I'm only rarely in a wheelchair atm, thankfully).

It is a pain to have to fold up a buggy if you have more than one child. But it is perfectly doable, especially if other passengers help instead of just sitting there like lemons watching you struggle. hmm

The wheelchair user should always get priority and this should be made crystal clear to anyone who boards the bus, buggy or not. In the past I've seen wheelchair users turned away from buses because standing passengers were occupying the wheelchair space. Of the list in the OP I would say that options 3, 4 and 7 make the most sense to me.

SirBoobAlot Tue 01-Jan-13 16:07:20

"If you can't manage your children under those restrictions, then you should use alternative forms of transport. Perhaps use CB for taxis?"

CB for taxis? You're shitting me, right? What freaking world do you live in?!

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