So by now, all bus users will know about the supreme court decision, that wheelchair users must have priority on using the disabled spaces on buses. Brought about because of an incident when a wheelchair user asked a mother (or asked the driver )to vacate a wheelchair space and fold her buggy. And she refused. To me this is a no brainer and common sense. If you’re in the wheelchair spot and a wheelchair user needs it, Move !! Wheelchair users have a tough enough time as it is and they are rightly protected under the Disability Act.
What boiled my piss though, was the torrent of abuse that mothers and buggies received in the comments sections of the online newspapers following the verdict. Totally uncalled for.
I am 100% confident that the wheelchair user in this incident was reasonable ,as well as being totally in the right to ask the mother and her pram to move from the wheelchair space. This however does not mean that the mother was rude or out of line either. She may have been, but we don’t really know, as his beef is not with ALL parents and prams. It’s how the bus companies deal with it through policy.
Most people would agree that both users have a need to use A space on the bus, but when constantly faced with a battle over what is often only ONE space, some clarity is needed for all parties. Disabled people have a right to live their lives and to have reasonable adjustments made to enable this – and they are covered by the Equality Act 2010- so the buses in this case do need to provide better access. Actually I think this court case could be a victory for parents too as it may now force the bus companies to provide more spaces, flip down seats etc. More and more buses are already doing this, so I don’t see why the rest shouldn’t follow suit. Then everyone can live their lives together instead of being forced into animosity in order to get bus companies to do what they should have thought about much sooner.
Anyway, back to this particular incident that led to the new ruling. Why the mum bashing online when nobody knows what was going though her mind? Nobody has mentioned the mother, other than she wouldn’t move but we’ve not heard her version of events. Yup, maybe she IS just selfish, but she may have felt justified in not moving (rightly or wrongly). The bus route was 29 miles long, with buses up to an hour apart (and no guarantee that she’d be able to board it if it did turn up). So it may have not been so easy as to just get off and wait for another bus. How many hours with a small baby do you expect her to wait? Or do you haters think she should walk all the way home? And you’re all forgetting that she didn’t have a foldable pram. All of this may have been going through her mind, when she had to make a snap judgement when a bus driver yelled down the bus at her. Had both users been able to speak to each other and explain their predicament or had the other passengers offered any help to both parties (?), an amicable resolution may well have been found here but after reading a lot of news articles about this, it doesn’t seem that either party were given much chance to think it through or negotiate by a hurried bus driver.
But you can’t really blame the driver either since they are under so much pressure to achieve barely achievable targets. Ultimately then, it’s the bus companies policies towards passengers and it’s drivers that have caused this issue and is why this case needed to be brought. It is not a judgement or licence to bash mothers who need to use the bus with their pushchairs. Just a clarification for the assistance of everyone involved.
Really the most horrifying thing about all this is that it’s 2017 and if you are anything other than able bodied and completely flexible, you’re being forced to fight over ONE space on a bus !! Instead of fighting, people should be coming together to get bus companies to introduce buses that reflect all the people that need to use them. If you’re finding that you’re constantly having to battle each day to get a space on the bus then I suggest you all lobby your bus company because there is obviously a demand for buses with better facilities. And those buses are out there. Why isn’t your bus company using them?
In the meantime. Please be kind.
edit: this article was edited to reduce length and repetition on 21/1/17. The sentiments, argument and tone remains the same.
p.s. I asked my 10yr old what he thinks and he said this. “It’s simple. Only get on a bus if you have a foldable buggy and the driver has to give them time to do it, but they never do”. Out of the mouths of children. I could have saved myself 800 words.