Bus firm answers critics over wheelchair policy

tis. Harrogate bus station. GS1405082a.
tis. Harrogate bus station. GS1405082a.

A Harrogate bus company has answered criticism of the way it treats disabled passengers.

Mrs E Townson, from First Avenue, Starbeck, said Transdev Harrogate & District tended to make disabled people feel “small and inferior”.

In a letter to the company, she said buses frequently refused to stop for her husband, who is in a wheelchair. When one bus did pull up, she added, the driver refused to clear a space in the wheelchair area, saying it was “not within company policy”.

While praising some drivers for being helpful and polite, she said: “We have both had enough of the way disabled people are being treated by the bus company. My husband came home very angry and upset about what happened.”

Nigel Eggleton, from Transdev, said his company had “great empathy” for wheelchair users and while its current position was not “a perfect solution”, it believed it was reasonable.

He said all the company’s buses were wheelchair-accessible and that, if a pushchair was occupying the wheelchair space, Transdev’s drivers could not force them to fold the buggy, but were trained to ask them to do so. “In practice most passengers are delighted to assist and understand the situation, but not all,” he added.

He also addressed Mrs Townson’s concerns about the firm’s new buses, acknowledging that, though accessible, their entrance was further back than usual, meaning wheelchair users needed to take extra care when boarding at Harrogate bus station.