Public Transport Wheelchair Access Discrimination Case (UK)

Hi all,

As the years have gone on my heath has deteriorated some as was expected and, most importantly to this post, my mobility has worsened.

I have had a mobility scooter for some years that I use for in-the-town shopping, appointments or socially. I used to take walking sticks then, later, elbow crutches to help me walk when going further from home. These days, I have a manual self-propelled wheelchair I use if away from home as I really cannot walk far or for long.

Recently, I was 'off to the city' for a day trip and needed to use public transport (the bus). For the most of the day, all was well and I had a lot of considerate people help me on and of busses - both drivers and other passengers. I was truly grateful for the help. However, at the start of my journey I was twice refused entry to wheelchair accessible buses. The first time, the bus was fairly full but the wheelchair bay could have been made available if the youths standing in it had moved up the bus. I was calm and agreed with the driver to get the next bus. The next bus experience was terrible! The wheelchair bay was empty but a man and woman with a pushchair got on before me - the man said he would fold the pushchair. When I got on the bus the driver was no help at all - did not even put the accessibility ramp down. I went to go into the wheelchair bay and the woman said (verbatim) "I'm not moving for you." The man had gone to the back of the bus. The driver said something like 'Come on I have to go." I was embarrassed and given very 'dirty' looks from other passengers. I backed out of the bus and nearly fell as the ramp was not down. By then I was very angry.

The two buses I tried to get on were long distance - straight to the city I was going to. A third bus arrived and I knew it to be a local only bus that would get me to the bus station where I could get a bus to the city. The driver of this bus could not have been more sympathetic and helpful. He made sure I was safe getting on the bus, travelling and getting off - he even wheeled me off as the pavement was at an awkward angle / height for the bus access ramp.

I got to the city and had a great day with my mum. Ironically, the bus to the city that we got on was the second bus I had access trouble with. As we approached, a new driver got in the bus and he was helpful too.

I'm disabled. I firmly believe that, in general, I am no more or less special than any other person and should not be given any special privilege as such just because I am disabled. It is definitely true that I request no more than the rights or privileges commonly afforded others. However, I do think a bit of 'common' sense and courtesy goes a long way to keeping everyone happy and, to some degree, makes for a better world for us all. Use of a disabled bay on a bus may seem, to some, like an unfair privilege given to the wheelchair user. To the wheelchair user that cannot drive and has no car or other easy to use and readily available transport, that wheelchair bay is a real boon though - when it is available.

So there you go! After another wall of text (it's becoming habitual), I suppose the conclusion is that some folk are nice, others are not. We takes them as they come!

Interestingly, today my attention was drawn to this BBC article;

And this web article too;

I'm not holding my breath!

Fantastic reply JC! I like it. :)

Hello there Michael

Bleeding awful what I read, Keep your head up high, don't let this get to you. A waste of energy ones with ataxia cannot afford, right. The RUDE ones out there will bump into something of their own, now or later, for sure. They have bad karma and they will pay the bill eventually.

Hugs from Holland, Elle.

Thanks Elle,

I tend to look on the positives for what they are and not dwell too much on the negative. However, just like anyone else, I get annoyed sometimes.

Originally, the OP was just going to report on the linked story as a 'heads up' to anyone interested in it. I got carried away as just after I started the OP I was talking to my father about it and we had a long conversation about rights, morals and the events of the day trip in general. I don't often 'spill over' from one conversation to another but this time I did. :)

It is said that what goes around comes around and that negative karma is repaid with like negativity. I would never wish harm or misfortune on any one as such but I agree with you about the rude, unhelpful or desrespectful in that I'm sure they will 'bump into something of their own, now or later, for sure'.

Thanks again and kindest regards,


Dear Michael, I'm so sorry this happened to you. Most people are kind and considerate. but there are a handful that are ignorant for whatever reason. I give you so much credit for holding your head high in spite of this adversity! ;o)

Hi Michael - I’m sorry for the poor experience. Unfortunately, I can relate both my pre- and post-life.

The more that I live, the more that I respect and honor Rosa Parks.

*pre- and post-wheelchair-using life :slight_smile:

Hi, 'Glitter' and rose (and all),

Thanks for the replies and support.

I was kind of 'egged' into writing the long OP after starting with just the links to the discrimation case.

I think, in hidsight, on the day of the day trip to the city I experienced three distinct circumstantial effects;

1, Common sense: Although I do think the wheelchair bay could have been made available, I did agree with the driver that waiting for the next bus (about ten minutes or so) would be the better option. This was not the most desirable outcome but common sense did come into play.

2, Rude, insensible and unsympathetic behaviour: This was the second bus and I need not repeat what happened. This was the worse of all!

3, Helpfulness, great attitude from driver and respect by and for all parties.

In the first case, I cannot really complain as I agreed to wait - no real problem. With the last case, all was good. Of course, the second case is what really 'threw' me and angered me somewhat. As I wrote earlier though; 'For the most of the day, all was well and I had a lot of considerate people help me'.

I understand and agree that we all, fully able, differently able or otherwise can have 'bad' days or experiences. I also agree that when we see or experience something that seems unjust, we are in the right to question it. Sometimes, it is better to 'bite the bullet' and use common sense as in the first case [above]. It can be difficult at other times to 'stand up' to injustice and 'make it right' and sometimes, such as with the second case [above], removing oneself from the situation is best - no matter how and sometimes especially when we start to get angry.

Swings and roundabouts, rough and smooth! It's all part of life. Ideally common sense would be prevailent - wheelchair bays would be for wheelchairs in example. However, the thing about common sense is that it seems to be anything but common!

Thanks again for the support all. I appreciate the replies. I aim to follow the story of the discrimination case (as linked) as I find it really interesting and hope that the links I gave have been useful.

Kindest regards,


Edit: I think the link between Rosa parks and wheelchair users (in regard to public transport specifically) is interesting. Of course, they are not quite the same thing! Rosa fought for the civil rights of herself and others and that is very similar to the whole 'right to travel' argument that disabled people are involved in now. It is sad that today, nearly sixty years since Rosa refused to give up her seat, western society has still not learned to treat everyone equally with the same levels of respect.

Not everyone respects others.The reason being is they have no respect for anyone that is different.They look at people with disabilities or differences as someone that doesn’t fit in.No one should be treated differently because you don’t understand them or what they are like.