Call for Crawley bus services to improve wheelchair access

Metrobus - stock image
Metrobus - stock image

A woman has called on bus services in Crawley to improve wheelchair access for her husband and other disabled people.

In January, a bus driver told Rachel Edwards and her husband Norman to wait for the next vehicle, because the wheelchair access ramp did not work.

The retired couple, who live in Crawley Down, were left waiting by the roadside in the ‘freezing cold’ for ten minutes due to the fault.

Mrs Edwards said: “The driver could have said ‘I’ll help you on’ but he didn’t. He said ‘you’ll need to go across the road and wait for the next bus’.

“We were waiting for ten minutes but it was freezing cold and when you are sitting in a wheelchair it is not fair. I don’t want him getting cold and catching pneumonia.

“The 82 bus has been like it for ages. I have to go to the front of the bus to tip him on that way.”

Mrs Edwards is a full-time carer for her husband, who has Parkinson’s and has suffered from bladder and lung cancer.

She explained that the bus ramp problems have been persistent since May last year, when she began to take him out more often.

She said: “I get out once or twice a week just to get him in town to look around the shops and get something to eat.

“All I get told is they are checked every morning, but they can’t be. If they were checked every morning, why aren’t they working?

“I think they need to sort themselves out and get the ramps working.”

Victoria Garcia, Metrobus’ accessibility officer, said: “I am so sorry to hear of the problems the gentleman has encountered.

“All our buses have low floors and are fully compliant with The Equality Act and the requirements for the provision of wheelchair access.

“The wheelchair ramp on each bus is checked each morning before leaving depot. No bus would enter service with a defective ramp.

“Despite extensive preventative measures and maintenance, as with anything mechanical, we can’t guarantee that on rare occasion a ramp failure may unfortunately occur.

“If it did, our engineers will attend the bus at the end of the current journey and ensure the ramp is fully functional and if necessary replace the bus.

“In order to increase ramp reliability we are now ordering manual ones for our single decks and continue to work with the manufacturers to ensure that our electric ramps are of the more reliable type.”

Metrobus also has a taxi guarantee scheme for any wheelchair user unable to board a bus to be offered a taxi to transport them.

In addition, the company has a Helping Hand scheme, which is a free card issued to any passenger that may require extra assistance.

Click here for more information.

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