Bus Travel and Wheelchair Users
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 CountryIn 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.