A wheelchair user has launched a petition calling for a change in legislation after she was left stranded because the wheelchair space on the bus she wanted to use, was taken up by a pushchair and other passengers’ shopping bags.
Shevonne Hutchins from Shepshed said there have been several occasions in the past two weeks when she has been unable to get on the Arriva 127 bus because drivers are powerless to insist that items blocking the wheelchair space be moved.
“It has happened to me many times, it’s crazy people can be left in the pouring rain because people are using the designated wheelchair space inappropriately.
“I’m not unreasonable, there have been times I can see the bus is so busy there isn’t enough space available to access the wheelchair space, but to be left stranded because people won’t move their shopping and drivers do nothing to help is disability discrimination.”
Now Shevonne has launched a petition asking for a change in legislation so that disabled passengers/wheelchair users are protected by law so this space is truly available.
“It’s disgusting the way we are treated. Some drivers do go above and beyond to help, but others just claim they are powerless to do anything.
“Travelling is difficult enough when struggling with any disability, with permanent pain, anxiety, fatigue without then having to fight for my human rights.
“Drivers who do go above and beyond what is expected, are not supported by law so if they ask a customer to move, they have nothing to support them in doing their jobs properly, leaving us on the side of the road.”
An Arriva Midlands spokesperson said: “At Arriva we aim to provide accessible transport for all and we regret that this particular customer wasn’t able to use our services. Wheelchair and mobility scooter users will always have priority over designated wheelchair spaces on our buses, and our drivers will take reasonable steps to request that non-wheelchair users vacate these spaces when necessary to do so.
“Common decency and respect for wheelchair users should mean that passengers without disabilities make way for them wherever possible. Unfortunately, where other passengers refuse to co-operate we are unable to guarantee that a wheelchair space will be available on every service.”
They added that Arriva was partnering with the Department for Transport for a campaign launched on 25 February, that deals with exactly this issue, raising awareness of the problems that inconsiderate actions cause for passengers with additional needs.
For more information on the campaign visit www.everyonesjourney.campaign.gov.uk