Bus Services Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Jeffrey Richard Harvey (BSB 17)

Summary: Written evidence in support of making it mandatory that the wheelchair space on a bus be vacated when it is occupied by property or a non-disabled person when it is required by a disabled person who is otherwise unable to travel.

1. I am a person who requires a powered wheelchair. I use public transportation to travel. I have used public transportation to travel to school, work, medical appointments, social events and other reasons. Because of the limited accessibility of rail and other means of transportation, travel by bus is especially important, and is essential to my ability to travel.

2. I support the petition, https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/184109 entitled "Use Buses Bill to make it mandatory for wheelchair space be vacated for a user".

3. In the past several years, I have submitted more than 50 complaints having to do with accessibility issues on busses. A significant proportion of those complaints were as a result of drivers unwilling to ask people to fold or move their buggy or property which was occupying the wheelchair space. Some of the complaints were due to the passenger refusing to fold or move the buggy when asked. The Paulley vs FirstGroup Supreme Court case went some way toward making it clear that the wheelchair space should be cleared for wheelchair users and established that the driver should pressurise a passenger to fold a buggy or make room for a wheelchair user, but it did not go far enough.

4. The law should be clarified that a non-disabled person must fold a buggy and/or move to make room when the wheelchair space is required. A person in a wheelchair has no other way to travel, whereas a person who refuses to fold a buggy, or move items to make way, for their own convenience can still travel with the buggy folded or their property moved out of the space.

5. This must be the responsibility of the bus company as part of their terms of carriage. Without such a clarification, I, and many other wheelchair users, will continue to be denied our rights. I must be able to travel like any other person, not be relegated to a special, potentially endless queue, of waiting "for the next bus, which is coming along in a few minutes", with a priority lower than another person’s convenience.

March 2017


Prepared 15th March 2017