You’ve heard the analogy of no buses for ages and then three come along in quick succession? But you are unlikely to have heard the one about four buses coming along and every one refusing access to a disabled man on a mobility scooter!!
Well it happened to a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer who has claimed he was forced to wait in freezing temperatures after being refused entry on a bus four times in one day.
Geoffrey Leberman, who needs to use a mobility scooter to get around after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis six years ago, said he was now losing his confidence to leave the house after encountering constant barriers in his efforts to be fully mobile. The 53-year-old said: “I really am losing my independence, my confidence to go out. The whole reason for getting a scooter in the first place is because I lost my driving licence so it’s very, very frustrating.”
The man from Finchley in North Londonl explained that he had made four complaints to Transport for London in the past six months, saying those with a disability got a “very rough ride” – with TfL now apologising and saying they had launched an urgent investigation. He said in one particularly bad instance on January 20, four bus drivers could not take him to where he needed to go – despite a recent court ruling that bus drivers must be more accommodating to wheelchair users.
Geoffrey Leberman elaborated: “There was a cold snap a couple weeks ago and it was very, very cold in London. I had to travel to north Finchley and I signalled to the driver – he signalled back then just closed the doors and drove off. The next bus came along and his ramp didn’t work, I couldn’t even get on.”
He said after waiting on the cold street for 40 minutes on the 20th January this year, he was finally allowed on a bus – but was again met with bus drivers refusing to allow him on the bus on his return trip. Instead, he said that two bus drivers flatly refused to let him on the 221 route bus, both saying they were not allowed to take mobility scooters, despite his Pride Colt Deluxe scooter fitting within the TfL guidelines for size. He said that he argued with one bus driver for several minutes but claimed that the bus driver told him that he could lose his job if he allowed him onto the bus.
Mr Leberman lamented that he could not afford constantly taking taxis, with the underground completely inaccessible to him. He continued: “The buses weren’t full, there wasn’t even a buggy in the space. I argued with one driver for 15 minutes, and some of the passengers even said that he couldn’t leave me. But he said that if he took a scooter, he would lose his job.”
Mr Leberman said he lived in accommodation with a number of other people with a disability who struggled to use public transport.
Transport for London’s Head of Bus Operations Tony Akers said: “I am sorry to hear of Mr Leberman’s experience. The Capital’s bus fleet is fully accessible and it doesn’t sound like our high standards were met in this case. We have asked the operator, Arriva, to urgently investigate.”
The story comes after Samantha Jones, who suffers from Cauda Equina syndrome, recently said that a similar thing happened to her in Warrington ( also reported on in an earlier blog article on this site )
Have you too had a similar experience? If so, please let us know the details in the Reply Box below.