First Bus Welcome The Supreme Court Ruling on Wheelchair Access
I was delighted to witness Mr Giles Fearnley the enigmatic Managing Director of First UK Bus to be interviewed on the BBC News at ten, after the historic decision of the Supreme court that ruled in favour of a man who attempted to board a First bus in Bristol but the driver had to refuse him access as a woman with a push chair had already occupied the space and refused point blank to move.
This left the driver with a serious problem as he could not forcibly remove her from the spot he was left with no other option but to tell the chap that he could not get on the bus. To be fair to the man involved he quite rightly took the case up and five years on it had got to the supreme court for a ruling and they found in favour of the man in the wheelchair.
Interestingly, while the court decreed that the wheelchair owner really did have the right to get access going forward it is still the poor drivers job to tell any body else going forward that they will have to give up the seat going forward and it begs the question. What if the person says no, I am not going to give it up, what does the poor old driver do then I ask myself.
However on the positive at long last it does mean that the bus driver is not now required to move customers from vehicles which has always been a tricky dilemma for drivers who had in the past been placed in a very difficult position. I recall back in my days a Depot Manager having to discipline some drivers for removing people from buses. The worst case scenario is when they kick school children off buses, this is always a very sensitive issue as I know myself as I was once kicked off a bus aged about 8 as I was 2 pence short having lost it .
It was not a nice experience and I recall that as I was escorted off the bus in the middle of God knows where in Birmingham that immediate boo hoo was the order of the day, until some nice lady took pity and kindly rang my mum from a call box (back before mobile phones of course). My dear old dad was not happy and he was the General Manager of the bus Company that I was kicked off from I suspect that the b us conductor was given short order and promptly given the order of the boot.
It was also helpful when I was a Manager making those tough decisions myself and deciding if a driver should be sacked or not after turning people off the bus. Of course the lack of CCTV made the process even harder because as ever it came down to one persons word against another.
Suffice to say that you just had to trust your instinct and judgement and do the best that you could. Funny thing is that some drivers were over zealous in their desires to kick people off and in fairness got away with murder, but not with me. I was always very polite and professional but also quite tough.