While I recover from an exhausting but brilliant weekend at the Wireless Festival (I'll post about it soon), my friend has written an article about the issues that disabled people face when using buses.
If you’re a wheelchair user then you’ll know how tricky bus travel can be. However with the development and introduction of more wheelchair accessible buses, this is all changing. Buses carrying more than 22 passengers are subject to the Public Service Accessibility Regulation 2000, which means new buses on local or scheduled services have to meet certain criteria to boost accessibility for wheelchair users. But as well as the bus companies there is a lot for you to consider carefully before heading out on the bus in your chair for the first time.
Make sure before you head out that the bus you plan to take is accessible to wheelchair users. It’s possible that the bus route will use an older style of bus without ramps. If this is the case then it’s wise to travel with assistance so you have someone on hand to help you on and off the bus as well as to fold and stow your chair. In towns and cities, buses usually have powered ramps but on rural routes it’s more likely ramps have to be unfolded by hand by the driver.
Most bus companies use the measurements of a standard wheelchair as a benchmark, so they will accommodate chairs that are 1200mm long, 700mm wide and no more than 1350mm in height to the top of the user’s head. If your wheelchair is not of standard dimensions then check with your bus company first to see whether yours will be possible to transport. If not then you may want to look into alternatives, like disability cars available from Allied Mobility.
When on Board
When you’re on board you should secure yourself and your chair to avoid accidents. Secure the handbrake to prevent movement of the wheelchair while the bus is in motion. There will also be a palm press bus bell and hand rails in easy reach for wheelchair users. Wheelchair users have priority over buggy users according to disability discrimination law, and drivers can ask people to move from the wheelchair area for you. Bear in mind also that disabled bus passengers over 60 years of age are entitled to free bus travel anywhere in England, which they can claim with proof of eligibility and permanent residence.
So wherever you want to go, your options should not be limited by your impaired mobility.
I hope that gives you some food for thought.
Bye for now!