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Saturday, 11 September 2010

Lothian Bus driver refused a lady and young baby in a pram to board

Far be it for me to stand up for the rights of women with children but on Thursday I was waiting for a bus into town and when the 16 pulled up, I moved to the side to let the lady and her baby on first.

However, the driver said "does that fold?"

"No" replied the Mum laden with bags of shopping as well.

"You can't come on then" he responded.

After a little bit I also waded in to ask why, I was told the rules clearly state it must be a foldable buggy or a wheelchair in that space.

Now, I knew a wheelchair passenger took priority, I didn't know about the foldable buggy rule and in the two and a half years I have lived in Edinburgh I have seen hundreds of Mums and Dads board buses with buggies/pushchairs and prams that were not folded.

So, I thought I will check out the Lothian Buses website.

3. ACCESSIBLE BUSES


We want as many people as possible to be able to use our buses in safety and comfort. All our buses have a dedicated wheelchair space while some buses also have a space for a buggy.  If there is no wheelchair user on the bus, other passengers including those travelling with a foldable buggy or with bulky luggage may occupy the wheelchair space. Whenever the space is needed by a wheelchair user, other passengers must move to make it available. On those buses which also have a designated buggy space, an unfolded buggy may occupy that space.

Please note that mobility scooters are NOT permitted on our buses.
That is fairly clear, although it doesn't actually mention unfoldable buggies etc.
 
However, the rules go on;
 
8. LUGGAGE


Accompanied luggage is carried at the driver’s discretion and the passenger’s risk. The Company will not be liable for any loss of, or damage to, luggage. Luggage must not be placed on any seat or cause any obstruction.
The following items may NOT be taken onto the Company’s buses:

a) any weapon or explosive or any article which is dangerous, offensive or excessively cumbersome

b) prams

c) bicycles other than folding bicycles which are folded and fully enclosed in a suitable carrying bag

d) non-folding wheelchairs, except where the designated wheelchair space is unoccupied

d) mobility scooters

f) any battery from which corrosive liquid might leak
So, prams are now excluded but an unfoldable pushchair gets no mention, unless Lothian Buses are treating those just as prams.
 
However, what is the actual difference?
 
The pushchair in question would have easily fitted in the allocated space and as the lady in question said, she had got the bus there in the first place, the driver wasn't having any of it.
 
I think Lothian Buses need to review their rules and use a little more discretion.

3 comments:

Caron said...

This is a disgrace! How on earth are parents and babies supposed to get about if they can't use the buses.

Gareth Aubrey said...

I would imagine the argument would be that, if they had an unfoldable pram on board and someone with a wheelchair wanted to get on, the wheelchair would have priority and they would have to kick the person with the pram off.

Not letting them on at all is a bit tough for a statistically unlikely event though...

Douglas McLellan said...

Its actually a sensible, if harsh, point. If a person with a child buggy gets on a bus and is allowed to use the space for a wheelchair user which is free and then a wheelchair user gets on then they have to get off or fold the buggy.

Now, since many people just buy a ticket for their journey (as opposed to day ticket or having a pass) their tickets are not transferable to another bus so if they are asked to get off (since they dont have a folding buggy) then they would have to buy another ticket. Which is what the bus driver may have been trying to avoid.

And it happens more than you would think. I regularly use the 34/47 at weekends to travel from the start of the route to the end of the route (Penicuik-Granton) to see my mum and every journey there will be a pram user for part of the route and about every third journey there is a wheelchair user.

I am actually amazed that anyone attempts to get a bus with a buggy that doesn't fold - how would they know that there is not a buggy/wheelchair in that space? How long would they be prepared to wait for a bus? Its totally random whether they could get a bus at all.

The arrival of the wheelchair user often prompts a panicked child extraction/buggy fold. Just imagine the hassle/delay if a person is being told to get off.

The new Lothian Buses where there are separate spaces for both wheelchair users and buggys get round this problem but it will take a while for the whole fleet to be upgraded.

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