Leonard Cheshire Disability’s bus survey found:
- 92% of wheelchair users had been refused a space on a bus; two thirds said this was because buses had no ramps, or ramps that were not working.
- 61% identified buggies in the wheelchair space as the biggest problem they faced.
- 50% said they had experienced rudeness or intimidation from a bus driver.
- And 47% had experienced rudeness or intimidation from other passengers.
Leonard Cheshire Disability also found that one in ten wheelchair users experiences problems every time they tried to get on a bus, and two in five people (43%) reported that these problems happen at least every other time they get on the bus. This is despite the law stating that reasonable adjustments should be made for wheelchair users when travelling on buses.
The charity assessed each of the main bus companies operating in the UK looking at disability awareness training for bus drivers; mention of wheelchair users in the conditions of carriage; use of low-floor buses; responses from disabled passengers to the Transport Focus Users Survey; and clear information on who has priority of the wheelchair space.
The results showed Go Ahead and Stagecoach were the best performing bus companies in the UK, each scoring 17 out of 20; First Bus and Arriva both scored 14; with National Express coming in last, with just 10 points.
Leonard Cheshire Disability chief executive Clare Pelham said: “It’s great that we have regulations coming in the next year for single decker buses and 2017 for double decker buses to make them all properly accessible for wheelchair users.
“This will really help the two-thirds of those surveyed who literally could not get on the bus. But there is so much more to access than ramps and lifts. Equally important is the support of the bus driver, that drivers want to help disabled people to travel.
“For so many wheelchair users the bus is their only way to get to work, to get to the doctor or simply get to the shops.
“Imagine being unable to go anywhere that you couldn’t reach in your wheelchair. Yet half of those surveyed said that drivers were rude, intimidating or wouldn’t stop the bus for them to get on. It’s time that drivers get the training they need to do the right thing. Public transport is for ALL the public: that’s the point.”
Under current Regulation, all bus companies must now ensure their single decker buses meet accessibility standards, and their double decker buses by 1 January 2017, including:
- Wheelchair spaces
- Ramps and lifts onto buses
- Low floors
- Communication devices (a separate intercom for disabled passengers)