Friday, 13 July 2012

The Right to Access Buses

Ray Bellisario (pictured) has endured terrible treatment at the hands of some bus drivers.

Ray Bellisario in the 'offending' mobility scooter
However, people such as John Murphy who responded in an ill-informed way on Facebook do not help the situation:

"Ok everyone's saying poor this poor that, time to throw a spanner in the works, he could have arranged a private ambulance to his hospital appointment with ease, the bus drivers were following the correct procedures, after the wake of the 7/7 bombings they have to be more stringent when it comes to Health and Safety! Also they mobility scooters are a monstrosity to say the least, saying to sack the drivers for following the correct procedures just shows the ignorance surrounding this. 

He is also eligible to the mobility scheme! Which he can easily purchase a car from if not he can get it for his primary carer.

Again this is the PC police out in force as well."

To John Murphy, yes he could have opted for transport to the hospital, most London hospitals offer such a resource. However, arranging such transport is not at you put it, easy. When using this form of transport you often have to be ready to travel hours before your hospital appointment time. For people with chronic pain conditions, or for someone like me who has a neurogenic bladder, being without the means to use a toilet for more than 40 minutes creates a crisis.

Your contention that post-7/7 wheelchairs or mobility scooters, that fulfil the measurement criteria, are not allowed on buses is simply untrue. Calling an aid such as a mobility scooter a monstrosity, a piece of equipment that helps someone who cannot walk without great difficulty and pain, sums up your humanity.

Your knowledge of the Motability scheme is also lacking. In the first place you don't purchase the vehicles, they're leased for a three or five -year term; secondly how do you know he can afford to run the vehicle; and third, you are assuming the man in question has a primary carer.

Finally, I do agree to a some degree to your defence of drivers. Calling for people to be sacked in such circumstances is not always the most helpful way to go. Most bus drivers are decent people; and will go the extra to help out elderly and disabled passengers. Some, sadly fall short of proper disability awareness, and need training.

However, the answer to the problem of bad drivers lies with trade union organisation within the industry. Where there is poor organisation in garages you are more likely to have drivers who are intimidated by management and who will follow bad instructions and advice from managers whose only concern is the maximisation of company profits.

Therefore, the sooner we get 100% organised bus garages, especially in large conurbations such as London, the sooner we will see all drivers fully trained in disability awareness training. In fact we could go one better and bring the buses back into the hands of the public sector; bring back bus conductors and dignity for all travelling on our buses.  

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