Disabled woman slams Elstow Park & Ride for discrimination

MBTC Liz Owen
MBTC Liz Owen

A disabled wheelchair-user has slammed the Elstow park & ride service for discrimination.

Liz Owen, who suffers chronic health issues, has used the service in the past with no problems.

But she says that on a recent journey the bus driver ignored her pleas to use the ramp that enable her motorised wheelchair to board the bus.

Liz said: “The bus pulled up at Elstow and the passengers got on. I always wait until the driver gets out to put the ramp out for me to get on easily.

“This time the bus was fairly near the kerb but there was quite a step up to the bus. My chair is custom-made and can climb up to 4cm of a step. Any more and it damages the underside of the battery compartment.

“The driver on the midday bus into town refused to get the ramp out.

“And he made no effort to help me. I had to reverse back from the bus, put my chair 
into full speed mode, and get my husband to push my chair and we had to take a run-up to get on the bus!”

She added: “On arrival at the bus station, the driver left a slight gap and again sat there.

“I asked ‘Please can I have the ramp?’ And he said ‘You can try this’. So luckily for me I managed to get down from the bus with the small gap he left.

“I was fuming!”

Liz says that she had an almost-identical experience travelling back four hours later, when a second driver also declined to get the ramp.

She said: “This time there was a huge three-inch gap between the kerb and the bus, even though the bus was level with the pavement

“I commented that ‘My chair cannot fly’. The driver said ‘I’ll come back,’ shut the bus doors, and reversed.

“I was thinking he was going to be leaving me! But no, he was lining up the bus, trying to get the step to the bus nearer to the pavement kerb.

“It did nothing and he attempted this six or seven times which took well over five minutes, and each time he asked could I get on and I said no as the gap was still too big!

“Eventually he got close enough for me to get on but it would have been much quicker for him to just get out the cab and put the ramp down!”

She added: “The poor passengers already on the bus must have wondered what he was doing by keeping reversing back and forth. It made me feel so upset that he didn’t want to help and could have made my experience better or even apologised for the issues.

“There was no friendliness and treated me like an inconvenience.

“I don’t want to experience this again, I was lucky I wasn’t travelling alone. And it could happen to another wheelchair-user.”

Bus firm Stagecoach have since confirmed to Liz that they are speaking to the drivers involved in her two journeys.