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Wheelchair users left at the kerb by buses full with baby buggies

jpco-4-12-13 Barry Tyndale 43 from Bewbush and James Welling 35 from Tilgate at Crawley Bus Station (Pic by Jon Rigby)

jpco-4-12-13 Barry Tyndale 43 from Bewbush and James Welling 35 from Tilgate at Crawley Bus Station (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Wheelchair users say they are often left waiting at bus stops due to the inaccessibility of some buses.

James Welling, 35, from Tilgate, said he was frequently left at stops waiting for a bus that had room for him or due to ramp problems.

He said: “It’s frustrating when I’m denied access to one or two buses because everyone looks at you on the kerb as they drive off in the bus. It’s humiliating.”

He said mothers with prams often take up the spaces with room for a wheelchair.

He added: “A lot of them have been told to move or fold their buggy and a lot of them say, ‘No’.

“Once there were two small small buggies - one in each space - and they could have sat next to each other. I don’t think there was a child in either anyway.”

James wants stricter controls and more obvious signs so there is one area clearly labelled for wheelchairs and one for prams.

Chris Cheshire, chair of Crawley TAG (Town Access Group), a group which monitors disabled access in the town, said she had heard many similar complaints.

She said one female TAG member waited in the rain for 45 minutes when she was trying to get to a job interview.

She said: “She sat in the rain while three buses have gone past. The bus drivers were saying, ‘We’ve got buggies’. One eventually asked one to move when she burst into tears.”

Nick Hill, head of commercial development at Metrobus, said ramps were checked every morning and no bus ever left with a defective ramp. However, he said street furniture and the height of kerbs could affect the ramp sensors.

He added: “Drivers cannot force buggy users to move and we can’t demand that they get off the bus but we will provide a further reminder to drivers that they should do everything they can to request that other users make space for the wheelchair.

“We are also planning to replace notices on the buses which make the point more strongly that buggies should be folded to make way for wheelchairs.”

 

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