Collier Row wheelchair user: discrimination means I’ve given up on Havering buses

A Collier Row wheelchair user says discrimination means she has all but given up on the borough’s bus services.

Amanda Hitt, 43, frequently has to wait upwards of half an hour while successive drivers refuse to help her on.

Ms Hitt contacted the Recorder after a number of 252 buses drove past her near her Mawney Close home last week, each failing to ask people with pushchairs to move out of the disabled area so she could board.

She said this had become such a regular occurrence she had all but “given up getting on buses”.

Ms Hitt added: “I just don’t bother going out, to be honest.

“The bus right from where I am into town is 10 to 15 minutes – but if I have an appointment then I have to leave about an hour to an hour and a half early, hoping I’m going to get there.”

Transport for London (TfL) rules state the area in the middle of the bus’s lower deck is for wheelchair users as a priority, and that buggies should be folded at busy times.

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But Ms Hitt, who suffers from arthritis and nerve pain, said this was rarely observed.

She added one bus driver had even made fun of her by pretending to ask people to fold buggies in a “sarcastic” lowered voice, so only she could hear.

“I’m so angry,” she said. “It’s unfair.”

Mike Weston, operations director for London Buses, said he was “sorry” to hear about Ms Hitt’s problems.

“Wheelchair users do take priority in the wheelchair space as that is the only place they can safely complete their journey,” he said.

“We take accessibility extremely seriously and are always concerned when wheelchair users experience problems using our services.

“TfL has introduced a number of initiatives recently to improve the service we offer wheelchair users. These include clearer guidelines for bus drivers to ensure wheelchair users are given priority in the wheelchair space onboard the bus.”

He added TfL would soon be launching a public awareness campaign around the issue, and that anyone who encountered similar problems could contact 0845 300 7000 or e-mail to make a complaint.