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Bus Travel and Wheelchair Users

By: Jonathan Webb - Updated: 12 Dec 2019 | comments*Discuss
Bus Travel Wheelchairs Disabled Travel

Bus travel can often cause problems for wheelchair users, but this is changing as more and more wheelchair accessible buses are introduced.Buses which carry more than 22 passengers are subject to the Public Service Accessibility Regulation 2000, which at a practical level means that all new buses used on either local or scheduled services have had to meet the criteria set out by this regulation. The exception was smaller single decker buses which had until 2005 to comply.

The speed at which older buses are being scrapped and replaced by wheelchair user friendly vehicles varies from area to area and as some wheelchair accessible buses are swapped across other routes and services meaning that the number of such buses on each route can vary from week to week. All single decker buses will however be wheelchair accessible by 2016 and all double decker buses by 2017.

Before travelling by bus it is important to ensure that the bus route and company you wish to use operates buses that are accessible to wheelchair users. If the route uses the older style of bus without ramps or the ability to lower itself you may only be able to use it if it is possible for you to get up out of your wheelchair and walk a few steps to the priority seating area on the bus, which is normally situated near the entrance doors. It is advisable to travel with assistance in this case, as not only can someone help you on and off the bus, but fold and stow your wheelchair as well.

Bus Travel In Town And Country

In towns and cities wheelchair accessible buses will usually have powered ramps, worked by the driver. On rural routes ramps may have to be unfolded by hand by the driver .Wheelchair user friendly buses will have at least 1 wheelchair space, often in a area which includes fold up seats, for the use of passengers when a wheelchair user is not traveling. These seats will be easy to fold up, even you have limited strength in your arms.

Once on board the bus it is important to ensure that you secure yourself and your wheelchair to avoid any accidents or injuries. On most buses the wheelchair user has to sit facing the back of the bus, against a padded backrest, designed to stop you tipping. This backrest is shaped to allow the handles and wheels of the wheelchair to pass on either side of it.

Once in position it is very important to secure the handbrake, to prevent movement of the wheelchair when the bus is in motion.There will also be a palm press bus bell and hand rails within reach of the wheelchair area. Wheelchair accessible buses can be recognised from the outside by an identifying sticker.

The disability discrimination act gives wheelchair users priority over buggy users, who may be occupying the space, providing there is sufficient space for the buggy to be folded and for the the person with the buggy to be able to sit with the child elsewhere on the bus.

The act also places a requirement upon the driver to ask people to move from the wheelchair area, but doesn't give the driver the power to compel people to move from the wheelchair area.

Most bus companies use the measurements of a standard wheelchair as a benchmark for travelling. These are wheelchairs that are 1200mm long, 700mm wide and no more than 1350mm in height from floor level to the top of the head of the person sitting in the wheelchair. If your wheelchair is of non-standard dimensions it is strongly advised that you contact the bus company to confirm that it is possible for your wheelchair to be carried.

Disabled bus passengers who are over 60, are able to take advantage of free bus travel anywhere in England. To claim this you must provide proof that you are eligible, that you are a permanent resident of the area and supply passport style photographs for your pass.

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I just go on the Yorkshire tiger from my home in totown the bus told I need a pass for the type of electric wheelchair I have. I have been turned away from some buses because they told me I cannot travel on the bus, and some drivers are ok but some say I cannot travel on the bus because of not having the right pass for my electric wheelchair. I’ve been on other Yorkshire tiger routes, in the area, and have never been asked for a specific pass for my type of electric wheelchair.
WheelAndy - 12-Dec-19 @ 1:57 PM
My partner has just had to get a larger wheelchair to accommodate her safely on it, she enjoys taking the bus places but the new chair is too wide to get on and off the buses, what rights are there to assist those who need larger chairs in accessing public transport without the requirements of having to use taxis or waiting hours for hospital transport?
Teddy - 6-Dec-19 @ 3:37 PM
I have been getting on and off my local buses with my wheelchair without a problem until today. Today the driver wanted to see my wheelchair permit. Note not my bus pass. I have never heard of this before. He said that he had been on a training course where it was stated that wheelchair users before being able to access a bus had to pass a course in getting on and off a bus safely thus obtaining a wheelchair permit. I have checked on my local council's website and can find no mention of this. I think he was being pinned. Have you heard of this?
Jenny - 1-Nov-19 @ 11:51 PM
Yesterday my disabled friend had to get out of his wheelchair to board the bus and I had to manhandle the wheelchair on and off the bus empty, as he also had to get off the bus by himself. The driver refused to lower the ramp, saying the manual wheelchair was 'too wide' for the ramp. This has never been a problem before. On getting up to get off the bus he received abuse from a passenger who said: 'He can walk, he is just lazy using a wheelchair'. My friend suffers from many medical conditions including COPD which makes him out of breath on even short walks. Of course people in wheelchairs can usually do a few steps, how else could they get in and out of the wheelchair? The bus driver on W3 route was most unhelpful. I am hard of hearing and did not understand what he was saying, nor did I hear what the abusive passenger said. My disabled friend told me. A huge argument started involving other passengers who were also abusive to my disabled friend. He also has a powered wheelchair, quite big, but has never used it as it is difficult to get out of his flat. Presumably that wouldn't be allowed on a bus?
No nickname - 31-Oct-19 @ 3:19 AM
I changed from a mobility scooter to power chair as some drivers refused access. Next was drivers dropping the ramp in front of an obstruction, in the road not on the kerb, or making a bridge with the tip of the ramp only just on the kerb, or most annoyingly the ramps not working properly or at all. This is all on TfL buses.
Oracle - 15-Oct-19 @ 12:12 PM
I just bought a power wheelchair it's 115cm length and 65cm with and 95 cm in hight and weight 45kg with battery and am no more than 12 stone will a be alound on the bus with my chair and do I need a permit for my chair like I did with my mobility scooter thank you for your help
Skull - 24-Sep-19 @ 4:56 PM
@Netty - I find my manual ‘chair slides around a lot despite excellent brakes. It’s very disturbing and contributes hugely to my motion sickness problem. I almost always transfer out of my ‘chair if I’m doing more than a short hop on the bus. Why do we still have to put our chairs backwards when buses in Germany allow you to position side-on? What legislation forces us to do that?
BabbitCymru - 23-Aug-19 @ 3:26 PM
I am in an electric wheelchair and wish to travel from Loganholme to city. Is there any buses available to do that transport.Jazzy wheelchair. Which company ?Thank you ?? i
Knuck - 29-Jun-19 @ 6:30 AM
My nan now needs to use a wheelchair does she have to change her old age pass to a different one.
Tine - 24-Apr-19 @ 11:39 AM
@duck - Most mobility scooters are too wide and heavy to put onto a bus. Only if you have a folding one is this possible. Also, mobility scooters would cause obstruction as unlike wheelchairs which can be more easily manoeuvred. I don't know of any bus services that allows this.
ValB - 27-Feb-18 @ 10:25 AM
ive got a small electric wheelchair (shoprider) ive been trying to get in touch with bus company to see if i can take it on bus with me,cant get a reply.ive got a disabled bus pass but dont know if i need a different one with the wheelchair.(its actually a powerchair,no handles on back).
duck - 26-Feb-18 @ 4:55 PM
I have to take my granddaughter on public transport as she is totally disabled and wheelchair bound .Would i be able for free travel with her as unable to travel by herself.
None - 16-Mar-17 @ 12:21 PM
Ive noticed my nhs fox powerchair sometimes moves even when ive switched off power. Despite me parked correctly in the designated space.This is v scary.hasanyone else had experience of this?
netty - 14-Mar-16 @ 5:50 PM
As a driver, I need to point out that the ramps, must not be trodden on or used while they are in motion, ie being put out or retracted... But all to often passengers in their haste to board, will totally ignore being asked to wait and step on the ramps, while they are not fully out or full in... This damages the ramp and the mechanism that it uses. The cost to repair is horrendous for ramps, and if it is being damaged regularly, operators often just give up and make the ramps non-functional... After all they cannot afford to fork out to repair constantly, this cost money and would lead to huge fare increases that no-one wants and there are few spare buses, ramp repairs can take some considerable time. Leave a service non-running as the bus is having ramp repairs.
RoyJ - 15-Sep-13 @ 6:34 PM
The fact that more and more buses will have ramps is very welcome but as a wheelchair user the main problem to be addressed is to make sure the ramps actually work. Many times during the past 3 years buses have left me at bus stops because ramps do not work. An additional problem is the attitude of some people with buggies who either do not understand or choose not to give any priority to wheelchair users. I fully accept that it is not easy but the abuse I have received on a number of occasions from the people with buggies is hurtful and distressing. I want to lead as independent a life as possible, enjoy participating in voluntary work and have a social life.
best One - 1-Jul-11 @ 5:33 PM
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