This morning I was late for a meeting. It wasn’t because I hadn’t allowed enough time to get there, but because I wasn’t allowed to get on the bus I was waiting for. Why wasn’t I allowed on? Because I’m a wheelchair user.
When the bus arrived Leftwing Idiot and I let the driver know I was there. We waited for him to put out the ramp and when he didn’t Leftwing Idiot asked him why not.
The driver said he wouldn’t let me on because there was a pushchair in the allocated space – and that the space was allocated on a “first come, first served” basis. When Leftwing Idiot questioned this, the driver replied, “They’ve got equal priority to you.”
The recent court ruling on the use of the wheelchair space states that bus drivers must ask the person with the pushchair to move, though they can’t make them if they refuse to. But the driver of this bus made no effort to ask the pushchair owner to move, and simply refused to let us on.
I’ll be adding this to a long list of other challenging and upsetting experiences I’ve had on buses and the Underground. Negotiating public transport as a wheelchair user is difficult enough without having to deal with poorly-trained and unhelpful staff.
By contrast the driver on the following bus, which also had a pushchair on board, let us on. He played an automated announcement about the use of the space to the other passengers and there was plenty of room for all of us.
As you’d expect I’ve written to Transport for London to share my experience with them. I’ll keep you posted on how they respond.