Mum fuming after bus driver leaves disabled daughter out in cold

A pensioner with a disabled daughter is furious after a bus driver left them out in the cold to give priority to mums with pushchairs.

Tammy Chapman and mum Janet, who is not happy with the way they were treated by a park-and-ride bus driver

Janet Chapman, 61, was with her daughter Tammy, 23, who has Down’s syndrome and was in a wheelchair, at Babraham Road park and ride in Cambridge.

But when they tried to get on a bus, the space designated for disabled people was taken up with pushchairs. When she and her other daughter Jamie, 24, asked the Stagecoach driver if he could move them along or get the mums to fold the buggies, he refused.

Mrs Chapman, of Huntingdon Road, Sawston, has now received an apology from Stagecoach bosses but is not satisfied with the response and accused the other mums of selfishness.

She said: “I got to the bus with my two daughters in good time to go to a dentist’s appointment. The bus was full and the space for wheelchairs was taken up by mums with pushchairs despite it categorically stating on the sign it was for disabled passengers.

“The bus driver wouldn’t let me on so I went to the office. I was really furious. It was freezing cold. I got a letter of apology from Stagecoach saying it was at the driver’s discretion but that he should have let me on.

“I don’t know why the mums just couldn’t fold up the buggies.

“Mums with buggies take up disabled parking spaces and now they are taking up spaces on buses for the disabled. It is selfish and discourteous.

“It is not easy having a disabled child and trying to use public transport with a wheelchair and they should have a bit more understanding.”

Andy Campbell, Stagecoach East managing director, said: “The situation was that the buggies were already on the vehicle before the lady came with the wheelchair.

“The driver can only ask the mothers to fold the pushchairs and if they refuse to do that there is not a lot the driver can do.

“We would hope that the mothers with pushchairs would appreciate the difficulties faced by someone in a wheelchair.”


4 Responses to Mum fuming after bus driver leaves disabled daughter out in cold

  1. Lisa says:

    Shame on the driver and shame on the women with buggies, wheelchairs should take priority , the kids in buggies can be held or can stand , sit on knees, wheelchair users can’t, if the space is for the disabled the people should have moved end of, ignorant people in an ignorant society, makes me sick!!

  2. Ada says:

    Perhaps bus companies would consider re-labelling their notices and word them so that disabled people have priority over those spaces.

  3. Liz R says:

    Firstbus have the same policy… he or she who gets there first gets the space..

    I struggled for four years with my late father in a wheelchair to get buses (we have Firstbus where we live). I could write a book the size of War and Peace with all the stories and times we have been unable to get a bus.

    Just a few from personal experience:

    Once had to wait for five buses before we had one we could get on – either steps with a pole in the centre, or full of pushchairs (fair enough as they couldn’t have got past the pole on the ones before anyway, so we all stacked up like planes waiting to land at Heathrow!). I sent a letter to the local paper not expecting it to be in, but it appeared the next night – unedited and took up a full column in the letter page. I got an e-mail from First asking why I hadn’t gone straight to them – I didn’t give them the dignity of a reply as I had lost count of the number of complaints I had made about not being able to get on. It did seem to get a result for a couple of weeks as all the buses that turned up were low floor with a wheelchair space, it was back to usual the next week … having to take pot luck as to whether we could get on.

    A driver once refused to let the wheelchair on –I ignored him and got the chair and Dad on and parked in the wheelchair space- there were only 6 or so other seated passengers on the bus. He came up to us and told us we weren’t allowed on the bus. I told him we were, that he couldn’t legally refuse us. He refused to start the bus …we were there so long some of the few passengers that were on the bus got off thinking it had broken down. He threaten to call the police –I invited him to do telling him it would look great in the local press, so he phoned his depot instead who told him he had to take us… he was not a very happy bunny!

    I have had one lady at a bus stop shout and scream because we “refused” to move the wheelchair so she could get on with her fold-up pushchair, telling her little boy they couldn’t get on because the nasty lady wouldn’t move. The driver tried to point out that there was wheelchair already in the space that he wouldn’t take her anyway … she started shouting at him as well, and because she started shouting at the driver, the other passengers started shouting back at her telling her not to be so selfish –giving us and the driver the thumbs-up.

    I have had one lady in an electric wheelchair expect me to get Dad out of his wheelchair so she could get in “her” space –needless to say I refused.

    In the end we signed up with a local community transport scheme founded specifically for those with mobility problems – we couldn’t go out as often as we liked, but at least we knew a bus (minibus) would turn up and we could get on it. I now volunteer on one of their buses now as a thank you for the help they gave us.

    On the plus side .. There are occasionally plusses, there used to be one particular double-decker bus with steps in the middle… Dad and I (with the chair) were first in the queue so I knew we would get on; there were also another couple with a wheelchair. To my surprise he let on the other wheelchair on as well… the design of the bus meant that they could be on the opposite side of the bus very firmly wedged between two rows of double seats. There were three pushchairs (not what I call tractors –with huge wheels and frames) as well in the queue. We all jiggled round a bit and we all managed to get on because we worked together to help each other.

    I actually had one driver offer to get the wheelchair on and off the bus for me..

    One helpful soul had once parked his van on the raised kerb, the bus driver did his best to get close and get the ramp down, it was way too steep to get it up, we hadn’t yet got a Powerpack, next thing I knew a young man had got hold of the chair and pushed up the steep ramp and into the wheelchair space.

    Their stated policy on their buses ..

    “As part of our commitment to providing accessible travel for wheelchair users virtually all our buses have a dedicated area for wheelchair users; other passengers are asked to give up the space for wheelchairs. When your low floor bus arrives at the bus stop you can ask the driver to lower the step and/or ramp to allow you to board. Please ask the driver for assistance if you require any help. If the bus is full or there is already a wheelchair user on board unfortunately we will not be able to carry another wheelchair user. You should reverse your wheelchair into the dedicated area on board (so you are facing the back of the vehicle) and apply the brakes. Aisles and gangways must be kept clear at all times. Wheelchairs do not have priority over buggies, but to ensure all our customers are treated fairly and with consideration, other customers are asked to move to another part of the bus to allow you to board. Unfortunately, if a fellow passenger refuses to move you will need to wait for the next bus. Non-low floor or ‘Step Height’ buses are not able to accommodate wheelchair users.”

    There are often stories in the local news about how people in wheelchairs have been left behind at bus stops either the driver has refused to let them on, or the space was already filled and people have refused to move.

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