A report by transport campaigner Helen Dolphin MBE has revealed that:
- 64% of wheelchair bus passengers are still being refused entry onto the bus
- 72% because the wheelchair space is taken by a pushchair and 47% because the ramp was broken.
- Bus drivers are still refusing to put the ramp down to enable wheelchair users to board
- 6% of wheelchair passengers have tipped over due to the lack of a wheelchair restraint system
The report surveyed 185 wheelchair/scooter users about their experiences of travelling on the bus.
The results of the survey give a snapshot of what bus travel is like for many disabled people across the UK. The most significant finding was that a pushchair in the wheelchair space is the most common reason for disabled people being unable to travel and 72% of respondents gave this as their reason for being refused entry onto a bus. Until more is done to ensure the wheelchair space is kept free for wheelchairs the problem is not going to be resolved.
The ramp being broken was also a significant reason for not being able to access the bus (47%) and shows that more needs to be done to ensure equipment is properly maintained and only buses with working equipment are dispatched. Although these two reasons were the most common for people not being able to get on the bus sadly many people were refused entry due to incorrect information about wheelchairs being too heavy or not being allowed on, or the poor attitude of the driver who in some given examples just refused to put down the ramp.
This report has also highlighted that many wheelchair users are just not safely secured when travelling on the bus. The majority of wheelchair passengers reported that their chair moved about when they were travelling. In many of the examples given people described how their chair skidded and slid about and some described how they had actually knocked into people. Out of all the 185 respondents 6% said their wheelchair had actually fallen over when they were on the bus. This is very dangerous both for the wheelchair user and other passengers who may be injured by the fall. One respondent stated:
“The driver was already in a mood because I needed the ramp and he drove too fast and too quick round corners, my wheelchair hit two people one old lady and a child.”
When asked if they would use public transport more if they were safely secured there is an overwhelming positive response. With automatic securement systems now available for bus passengers bus operators should be encouraged to include them in new buses specifications, as clearly these would help make bus travel safer for disabled people and encourage more disabled people to use the bus.
Although bus travel has improved for disabled people and there is now an obligation for all single decker buses to be accessible more must be done to ensure that disabled people are not prevented or put off from using the bus due to incorrect use of the wheelchair space, lack of driver training and poor securement.
For further information please contact Helen Dolphin MBE on 07941253947 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.