I was absolutely delighted last week to learn that a wheelchair user had won his court battle which recognises that wheelchair users should take priority over buggies and other passengers using a bus wheelchair space.
Over the years, I’ve often been left frustrated and angry by bus drivers and passengers alike, who refuse to allow me on to buses because either they can’t be bothered to put the ramp down for me or passengers can’t be bothered to make space for me to board the bus. Though this ruling is very welcome, I do wonder if it will make any difference to people attitudes.
A few months ago, I was on a bus on my way to a hospital appointment. I was in the wheelchair space and all was well, until a passenger with a double buggy boarded the bus – against the driver’s instructions. There was clearly no space for her – unless she folded the pushchair but she refused. The driver pointed out that she was obstructing the gangway and that he would not move the bus until she either folded the buggy or got off the bus. She refused, saying she was already late. By now other passengers were getting frustrated and in an effort to defuse the situation, one gentleman suggested that I swap places with the lady.
Although I knew this wasn’t right, I was aware of the tension on the bus. The driver, understanding my rights, refused to accept this and firmly told the lady she would have to get off the bus and gently scolded me for moving.
So yes, this ruling is good news for disabled me. But we already have the Equality Act which should protect us from this kind of behaviour. It is clearly attitudes which still, in 2017, need to change. People are still lacking in disability awareness and no amount of court rulings are going to fix that fundamental problem/