St Albans bus driver turns away disabled girl

Uno bus

Uno bus - Credit: Archant

A ST Albans mum has spoken of her outrage after a bus driver prevented her wheelchair-bound daughter and carer from boarding the vehicle.

The incident happened last Friday and the driver turned the wheelchair away because there was a toddler sleeping in a designated disabled area.

The mum, who wanted to be identified just by her first name, Joanne, explained that her severely disabled eight-year-old daughter had enjoyed a pleasant visit to Verulamium Park to watch ducks at the lake.

Her carer then pushed the girl, who suffers tetraplegic cerebral palsy and has no use of all four limbs, to the bus stop outside O’Neill’s pub in Victoria Street, to return home and avoid the midday heat.

But when the Jersey Farm-bound Uno S3 bus arrived at about 1.10pm, the carer was forced to argue with the driver after he refused point blank to let the pair board.

Joanne said despite a sign clearly stating “please give up this space to a person in a wheelchair” a mother had put her toddler’s stroller there.

Although there was a queue behind the carer, the mother refused to wake her child and fold up the stroller and the driver would not let the disabled girl board.

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Joanne said: “The carer spent 10 minutes arguing with him but he refused to let her on. People behind her told him it was disgusting. I am outraged.

“We are regular bus users and have never had this happen before. The stroller could have been folded up. My daughter clearly cannot walk. She can’t talk either, so we are her voice.”

The driver told the carer she would have to get off the bus and wait for the next one to arrive as the toddler’s mother did not want to disturb her sleeping child.

Joanne added: “The driver refused to go anywhere until the carer got off the bus and told her to wait 15 minutes for the next one.

“My embarrassed carer and by now distressed daughter had to get off and wait in the sun.”

But Joanne has applauded the next Uno bus driver who arrived and could not have been more helpful to the pair.

Even though this time there were two buggies in the wheelchair area, he immediately told the parents to move their children to allow her daughter to board.

She added: “My carer explained she had been refused access to the previous bus and the second driver was most disgusted and explained that Uno drivers are trained for this sort of thing and should know wheelchairs have priority.”

Joanne has sent a strongly worded complaint about the distressing incident to the Hatfield based firm, which ironically advertises itself as “the university bus that everyone can use.”

In her complaint to Uno general manager Michael Finn she said: “It is difficult enough caring for a disabled child in a wheelchair without this sort of discrimination.” The Herts Advertiser contacted Uno for comment but Mr Finn was on leave and no-one would respond.