Siew Peng Lee • Published 14 Mar 2013 15:30
A DISABLED Pars fan was left “humiliated” after being ordered off Stagecoach buses TWICE in an afternoon – because there were already two buggies on board.
Wheelchair user Peter Lockhart claimed he was even called a “pest” by one of the drivers when he tried to reason with him.
Peter (53), chair of the Pars Disabled Supporters Club, suffers from fibromyalgia, which causes muscle weakness, pain and tiredness.
He had tried boarding two service 19 buses on 20th February but drivers wouldn’t let him on.
“I was going from Cowdenbeath to Lochgelly High School at 1pm.
“I went to get on and the driver said I couldn’t.
“When I asked why he said, ‘I’ve got two buggies already’.
“I asked if we couldn’t get the buggies onto one side or one of them folded up – the rules are that it’s one buggy and one wheelchair space.
“I told him that in the conditions of carriage it’s illegal to leave me and that he’d have to take me on and the wheelchair space had to be vacated if a wheelchair wanted to get on.
“But he told me, ‘I don’t care what you’re saying, you’re not getting on’, shut the door and drove off.
“I waited another 12 minutes before another bus came.”
At 3 pm Peter tried catching another service 19 from Lochgelly Co-op to Cowdenbeath but the driver refused him entry after two buggies got on.
“I told the driver, ‘You do realise you’re breaking the law if you leave me here’.
“But he said, ‘I don’t have to let you on and anyway you’re just a pest, you’ve always been a pest’ – it’s happened before with that driver, he didn’t let me on once before.
“Luckily there was another bus right behind it.”
Peter claimed on both buses the mums with the buggies had gone up to the drivers when he was ordered off.
“I’ve found mums with buggies to be very accommodating, they’ll try and help me get on.
“If there was no way I could get on because there were too many buggies or the bus was full, fair enough, I’d never want a mum and baby to get off to let me on.
“But I do expect drivers to try to be accommodating. Those two drivers didn’t even try.
“It’s not the first time this has happened. Some buses don’t even stop and just drive right past me.”
Peter, who is also councillor for Cowdenbeath, has complained to Stagecoach and fears others could be facing the same “discrimination”.
“If they’re doing that to me, what are they doing to other wheelchair users?
“I can speak up for myself but a lot of people might not know their rights or can’t speak up for themselves.
“We don’t know how they’re being treated.
“I don’t want anyone to lose their job but there needs to be greater awareness of disability issues. Drivers need to be better trained.”
Sarah Boyd, operations director for Stagecoach East Scotland said
“The comments raised are concerning as we take issues such as this very seriously.
“Our staff are trained to make reasonable requests to ensure the wheelchair space available to those who require it and it is the legal requirement of a passenger to make the dedicated wheelchair space available, if possible, should it be required.
“We have launched a full investigation into the circumstances and have been discussing with Councillor Lockhart directly.”
Peter Lockhart is a keen supporter of Black Triangle and has been active since our inception in 2010.
Peter was also a member of The Fife Campaign against Cuts and Charges (CACC) who, after five long years of campaigning and a change of administration defeated home care charges which are to be scrapped in Fife from April this year. A stunning victory.
We are very proud to be associated with him and all our friends at CACC who continue to fight for our rights wherever and whenever they are attacked. They are an inspiration to us all in our struggle.