Disabled passenger wants action after bad experiences

By Nigel Slater 05/04 Updated: 12/04 12:08

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Buy photos » Disabled resident Steven Sumpter has said he has had bad experiences using public transport and is backing a national campaign to stop disabled passengers feeling discriminated against. Picture by Nick Hands 1412032NHR2 Order this picture online at www.buyphotos247.com

A WHEELCHAIR bound resident has called for more awareness of the needs of disabled passengers after a series of incidents on public transport that left him feeling awkward and embarrassed.

Steven Sumpter from Badsey suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition which causes extreme physical and mental tiredness, but said he has been put off using public transport because he felt not enough was being done to help him.

The 33-year-old said he had experienced several problems accessing buses and trains such as staff not meeting him at stations to help him off the carriage and having to fold his chair with wheelchair spaces taken up by pushchairs.

One stressful incident happened last month when Steven was waiting for a bus in Badsey. After he got on using an access ramp, the driver had could no longer drive the bus once he activated the ramp. This meant the bus was stationary for at least 20 minutes.

Steven then informed the driver there was mud underneath the ramp and once it was swept up the bus moved again and resumed its journey.

"It made me feel very awkward because I felt like it was me delaying everyone's journey," Steven told the Observer. "The whole situation would not have happened if I had not got on the bus in the first place.

"Luckily other passengers were laughing about it but at the back there were a few grumpy souls who didn't seem pleased. It was an unpleasant experience.

"Using public transport is now a bit of gamble for me because even though I pre-book my journey I still don't know how it is going to turn out. Once I got on a train and there was no wheelchair space at all.

"Certainly staff training needs to improve and a lot of work needs to be done. You would have thought these problems would not occur and it is disappointing to experience these situations. It makes things much more difficult."

Bus operator Henshaws apologised for the incident and said the company has invested in new low floor buses for the convenience of elderly and disabled people.

Company director Daniel Henshaw told the Observer: "On this particular occasion the movement sensor had become stuck and needed to be operated a few times to clear the problem.

"These buses are relatively new to us as a company and our drivers are trained how to us them, but as will happen on occasion problems do occur. We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

Mr Sumpter's concerns come after new research revealed disabled people in the UK are being prevented from using public transport due to high levels of discrimination exhibited by staff.

A2BForAll, a campaign which highlights the issues disabled passengers face, found more than 50 per cent of public transport users with a disability felt discriminated against while travelling.

To get involved with the campaign visit their Facebook page at http://facebook.com/A2BForAll.

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