Prams versus wheelchairs: Who wins?

Bus driver helps woman with her wheelie walkerThis item comes from the UK and raises the issue here in Australia – what are the rules for pram users and wheelchair users, and also older people, when there is only one wheelchair bay on the bus? 

In Leeds, a wheelchair user boarded a bus, but a woman with a stroller was occupying the wheelchair bay. Complying with company policy, the driver asked her to move but she refused. The wheelchair user had to wait for the next bus, which meant he missed his train. On the grounds of discrimination, the wheelchair user took the matter to the Supreme Court. The ruling was that drivers are not legally obliged to force someone with a stroller to give up the space. A spokesperson for the bus users organisation said that ultimately everyone should have equal access to public transport, which means the designated wheelchair bay is not protected for wheelchair users only. The spokesperson added that, “we would like to see bus designers, manufacturers and operators thinking more creatively about how buses can meet the needs of all passengers.” 

Sydney Buses has a policy for people with mobility aids and a policy for prams, strollers, and buggies. Basically, a pram user is expected to fold the pram and take a seat in the main section of the bus if a wheelchair user or older person boards the bus after them. Perhaps it is time for a review of bus design as many policy makers annd healthy built environment advocates are pushing for us to use public transport more often – they call it “active travel”.

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