Bus barrier for disabled man

A WHEELCHAIR-bound man has spoken out against a Boston bus company after he found the disabled facilities on its fleet to be lacking.

Joe Nash said he felt ‘humiliated, rejected and pathetic’ after he was turned away from two Brylaine buses because the ramp was not in working order – in one instance, it was even screwed down.

A spokesman for Brylaine said there was no legal requirement for the company to provide a completely accessible fleet at the moment, but Mr Nash described it as a ‘total disregard for disabled people and the frailer elderly in society’.

He told The Standard that on several occasions when he has tried to travel between Boston and Spalding he has found the ramps on Brylaine’s accessible buses have not been in operation, but the matter came to a head after two occasions when the disabled ramp was deactivated, meaning the driver had to help push his chair up from the pavement to the bus – and he nearly fell out when he had to try to get off.

Mr Nash said: “If it is only one ramp which has been de-commissioned for months, there is no excuse, but if more than one ramp is de-commissioned that is a dreadful contempt of wheelchair users.

“As Brylaine do not have a 100 per cent accessible fleet every ramp not working is a greater barrier to equality.”

He told The Standard that the situation was exacerbated by the fact that just days after this incident he was able to travel to London independently, adding: “No matter where they are a wheelchair user’s life is severely restricted, therefore travel is essential to attempt equality.”

According to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), buses in current use do not have to be fully accessible until 2017, but new vehicles which are commissioned must be fully DDA compliant.

Malcolm Wheatley, operations director at Brylaine, said 80 per cent of the fleet was currently accessible.

He added: “I think (Mr Nash) was unlucky to encounter this situation. We are striving towards total DDA compliance. We are on course to be there before 2017.”

Mr Wheatley said it coast around £150,000 for a new bus which is DDA compliant.