Should Wheelchair Users Have Priority Over Pushchairs On Buses?

31 July 2015

Wheelchair access on a bus
It's an awkward moment, when the bus driver asks you to fold your pushchair to make for another passenger.

You've boarded a bus with your baby and pushchair in tow, successfully negotiated your way past throngs of other bus passengers, and possibly even worked out how to apply the brake properly and wedge yourself into a vaguely safe spot where you can also check on your sleeping cargo.

Then all of a sudden you're expected to hoist your kid out of his cosy cocoon and work out how in hell to fold the pushchair despite never having done so since you bought the blasted thing.

Factor in having more than one child with you, and the whole thing turns into a logistical nightmare. Before now I have literally had to hand my weeks-old screaming baby to a total stranger to hold whilst wrestling to collapse my pushchair and trying to prevent my toddler from falling face first into some hostile spectator's lap.

It's bad enough when this happens because you need to make space for another passenger, but would your reaction to these circumstances be any different if you were asked to move for a wheelchair user?

Earlier this month, a man was granted permission to take his case about access for wheelchair users on buses to the Supreme Court.

The BBC reports:

Doug Paulley, from Wetherby, was denied access to a FirstGroup bus when a woman with a pushchair refused to move.

Senior judges overturned an earlier ruling which said the firm's wheelchair policy was discriminatory and breached the Equality Act.

He has been granted permission to take the case to the Supreme Court because it raises issues of public importance.

The man was unable to board a bus because a woman with a sleeping child in a pushchair refused to move when asked to do so by the driver, despite a sign on display which asked passengers to give up the space if needed for a wheelchair user.

Speaking personally, I'd happily move to create space for a wheelchair user on a bus, on the basis that I see their need as greater than mine. Yes, it's inconvenient to wake a sleeping baby and fold an unwieldy pushchair but I have the ability to do so, so why wouldn't I?

But not everyone agrees. One of the Playpennies team has this to say on the subject:

"I didn't mind folding up the buggy when my children were older but to me it's wrong to favour a wheelchair user when someone has a toddler and a newborn baby on a bus. I would stand and wait patiently for bus after bus to pass until one had a space for us - we relied on buses. Whoever is first on the bus, is first on the bus, in my view. You shouldn't have to move unless the child is old enough to sit on your knee."

What's your view? We'd love to hear about it over on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

TOPICS:   Parents

2 comments

  • devilsadvocate88
    What happens if you were to have newborn twins or 2 kids under 15 months? A mother wouldn't be capable of holding both babies and folding buggy etc... I once was on a bus with a double buggy with my newborn baby and my 13 month old who couldn't walk properly, a wheelchair user then wanted to come on, I was expected to hold my babies and fold my buggy on a busy London bus all by my self and try to keep thme safe whilst the bus is moving, which is very dangerous as there are no seat belts and the bus is constantly stopping and starting, sudden braking and swerving etc..... My first thoughts were how on earth am I gona manage it?? My kids are also incapable and need the space. why don't they matter? Doesn't their safety matter?? but I was scared to express myself publicity as to not be attacked my the public for my 'insensitivity'. It wasn't that u didn't want to give the space to the wheelchair user, it was just that my kids safety means more to me as it would to any parent. Thankfully we managed to get both the wheelchair and the pushchair in together and neither of us had to compromise. But what if one of us had to?? Who would be in favour???
  • ksmith74
    As a mother and a wheelchair user, I can see both sides of the argument. However, I have often wondered why mothers don't factor in buses and needing to fold their pushchair when frst buying one, especially if you have more than one child and have done it before. I don't have a scooter because they are bigger and either wouldnt fit on a bus or would take up too much room... but it seems okay for mothers to barely know how to fold their pushchairs down? Personally I would never expect a mother with a new born baby to move for me, but when someone has a toddler and a buggy and are mainly using the stroller to put their shopping on, I don't see why its such a problem.

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