Wheelchair-bound Lib Dem peer barred from boarding bus after driver refused to ask parent to move buggy

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A wheelchair-bound Lib Dem peer has told of her anger after a bus driver refused to ask a parent to move their buggy so she could board a London bus.

Baroness Sal Brinton, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, said the bus was “fairly empty” and that the driver was not aware she should be given priority.

She claimed the driver was “not prepared” to ask the parent to move their buggy and that she would have to wait for another bus to Parliament from the Euston area.

Baroness Brinton, who is president of the Lib Dem party, said it was not the first time it had happened while she was trying to travel to Westminster and that in 2015 she was barred from boarding a bus for the same reason.

Transport for London has apologised to Baroness Brinton and launched an investigation.

She told the Standard: “The bus was fairly empty, but regardless – if the wheelchair goes in first you can fit both a buggy and a wheelchair in the space… In fact, that’s exactly what happened when I boarded another bus afterwards.

“I couldn’t see the parent, and the driver did not put down the ramp and said they were not prepared to ask the parent to make space so it made it impossible for me and so I had to wait.”

She added: “It made me very angry, and even more so because this is not the first time this has happened… When this happened to me two years ago, I spoke to TfL and they said they would make sure bus companies trained drivers so that this would be avoided. Clearly that was not the case.”

The 62-year-old, who is a spokeswoman on disability for the Lib Dems, was travelling to work at Parliament when the incident occurred at about 1pm. 

In 2015, Baroness Brinton was told by a bus conductor to wait for the next 24 from Euston station after a young father refused to move his pram.

After a brief discussion, she said the doors closed on her before she could board “leaving the people at the bus stop frothing at the mouth with anger.”

Claire Mann, TfL’s Director of Bus Operations, said: “We’re very sorry and disappointed to hear about Baroness Brinton’s experience. 

“It is essential wheelchair users are given priority over buggies on buses and clearly something has gone wrong here. We will investigate this with the bus company immediately.

“We know that there is much more to do to make our services more accessible to everyone and we welcome any feedback which will help us to improve.”

Baroness Brinton’s experience comes after a disabled man in January won a Supreme Court battle after a dispute with a woman with a buggy over wheelchair space on a bus.

Despite winning the case, the judgement fell short of making it a legal requirement for companies to compel non-wheelchair passengers to move from priority areas.

The case was brought by wheelchair user Doug Paulley after he was refused entry to a FirstGroup bus in 2012 when a mother with a pushchair refused to move. 

Disability charity Scope said the case was an “important milestone”.

Baroness Brinton said more needs to be done to stop this type of incident. 

TfL said all bus drivers had been comprehensively briefed following the Supreme Court ruling.


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