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Heavily pregnant - but kicked off bus in Rainham for not having exact change

PUBLISHED: 17:46 30 January 2013 | UPDATED: 13:13 31 January 2013

Jemma Wheeler with three-year-old Ronni (photo: Paul Bennett)

Jemma Wheeler with three-year-old Ronni (photo: Paul Bennett)

Archant

A heavily pregnant woman and her young daughter were kicked off a bus by an unsympathetic driver for not having exact change.

Jemma Wheeler, 31, was taking her three-year-old daughter Ronni to playschool in Rainham on Monday morning. She boarded a 165 bus at Cherry Tree Lane and tried to pay the £2.40 fare with three pound coins as her Oyster card was damaged.

But despite offering to let the driver keep the extra 60p, she was told: ‘Correct change, or get off.’”

Jemma said she was unable to walk her daughter to Brittons Babes in Ford Lane as she is eight months pregnant.

As a result, Ronni had to miss seeing her friends and go home with her mum.

“It was embarrassing,” said Jemma, of Hubert Road. “If he’d accepted the extra 60p or offered a change ticket I could have got my daughter to school.

“The bus had already turned up late so there was no way I was going to get her there on time.

“My daughter was upset because she was late for playschool, and there was a bus full of people watching – so I got off before I started crying.

“Later my husband phoned the company and was told bus drivers are encouraged not to carry change for their own safety – but nowhere on the bus does it say you have to have the correct money.”

Mike Weston, operations director at London Buses, said: “We are sorry to hear about the problems reported by Ms Wheeler when she tried to board the route 165 on Cherry Tree Lane on Monday.

“We expect the bus operators who run the routes to ensure their drivers have a cash float so they can give small amounts of change to passengers. Where it’s not possible for them to issue the correct change, there are other options available that would still allow a passenger to travel.

“We have asked First, who operate the route, to investigate this incident and will take any necessary action as a matter of priority.”

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