Richmond – Vauxhall – Oval – Return
Last Thursday, 8/9/16, at 16.43 I arrived at Oval Stop D to catch a bus to Vauxhall.
There was a bus already at the stop so I indicated to the driver I’d like the ramp so I could board in my wheelchair.
Before the driver could close the door and deploy the ramp the bus behind decamped all it’s passengers who filed on to the bus I was attempting to board, including a mother with a buggy, filling the previously empty wheelchair space.
Also at the stop was a Go Ahead Inspector, number XXXX. He had his back to me and hadn’t seen me arrive.
I made myself known to him and explained that I wanted to board the bus. He said the wheelchair space was full, but that I could board the following bus which was empty and leaving in four minutes.
I told him I’d arrived first. He replied that he hadn’t seen me.
I requested that he ask the buggy to get off. He refused, again telling me I should board the following bus.
I told him he the rules required that he ask the buggy to get off. He told me this wasn’t the case.
At my request my PA got out my copy of the Big Red Book which I carry, showed it to the inspector and opened it at the page dealing with wheelchairs. He acknowledged that he knew the book, but still insisted that there is no priority for wheelchairs, and refused to ask the buggy to move.
At this point he instructed the driver to leave. The driver attempted to allow me on board, but was instructed to close the doors and depart, which he did.
Reluctantly I boarded the following bus, LJ61 GXL, a different service, which left in due course.
I find this episode extremely troubling for a number of reasons.
Firstly, of course, that an inspector, a senior member of staff, not only doesn’t know the rules regarding wheelchair priority, but also denies them when presented with a copy of the Big Red Book.
Secondly, the driver who obviously knew the rules and attempted to follow them has had his understanding questioned by a senior colleague. Next time he is faced with a similar situation, will he follow the correct procedure to enforce wheelchair priority or will he follow the example set by this inspector?
Thirdly, I fear that details of this incident may be relayed to other drivers in the garage and reinforce this incorrect and discriminatory approach.
Finally, and this may seem like a small thing but I think it’s important, I’m concerned about attitude. Although the inspector remained professional and courteous through the incident, at no point did he express any regret or offer an apology for my not being able to board the bus.
In the light of this incident I insist that :
– the incident is investigated to confirm the facts as I have laid them out,
– the inspector is disciplined for failing to follow the procedures laid out in The Big Red Book,
– the inspector undergoes additional, remedial training to correct his understanding of the procedures surrounding wheelchair priority,
– the driver of the bus is informed that his understanding of the rules regarding wheelchair priority is correct,
– and that you confirm to me by 10th October 2016 that these steps have been taken.
Please note that my PA can provide corroboration for the facts in this incident if necessary.
Transport for All