13 February 2015

Friday´s Thoughts: The divide between bus drivers and mums

 

I am a daily user of buses and I have to say that I feel that I am treated differently when I board the bus only by myself or with a pram. And this difference, unfortunately, rarely is meant in a positive way. I feel discriminated.  And last Tuesday particularly, as I was denied entrance on a bus practically empty and the destined space for wheelchairs or prams was occupied by a single able-bodied person.
But let’s describe what happened to me fully…. In a freezing afternoon, I was waiting for the bus with my little one so that we could attend a GP appointment. The bus approached the stop, I signaled it, the bus stopped the door opens and the bus driver claims “We are full, there’s no more room for a pram”. The door closes immediately. There’s not even time for me to see by myself or even ask around if there was a possibility to create some space for the pram! As the bus leaves, I was able to see clearly that the destined space for a wheelchair or pushchair was occupied by a middle aged woman, without any disability whatsoever! And the other spots for disabled persons where even vacant… Without mentioning the rest of the bus that was practically empty.

Firstly, let me clarified that I understand the buses policies to denied access to mothers with prams when such access may jeopardize the safety of others passengers, as may happen when the bus is completely packed. I also believe that priority spaces should be occupied primarily by a wheelchair user, and if that situation arises I would vacate it for the wheelchair user. This has already happened and I vacated the space on spot (may I add without the bus driver needing to say a word).   Let me also state that I disagree with the courts last ruling  where wheelchair users lost their claim to their designated spaces. But today I will only be focusing on my situation as a mum boarding, or better not boarding the bus while carrying a pushchair.

What I clearly don’t comprehend is why I wasn’t even given the chance to see if she would mind to free the space so that I could board. It was my understanding that the common policy is for the users to arrange space and vacate space accordingly, that the matters should be left to the good sense and conscience of the passengers. But this rarely happens, at least when it is me as a mother with a pram who has to board the bus. Which is why I feel extremely discriminated. I feel that when “there´s no room for a pram” (albeit there is), the bus driver simply takes action and denies me access to the bus. Which begs the question: why wouldn’t the bus driver take any action in helping me? Why not allow me to board and see if it was possible to arrange some proper space? Because I feel that so often the bus driver usually lets a normal user board the bus even when it is over packed and I mean more than over packed!

Innumerous times mothers were painted and vilified in social media as unreasonable individuals who don’t vacate the spot for the rightful user. This clearly, in my experience, rarely happens. A mother with a pram is more likely a victim. Take a look at this case, where a mother was left in the cold or this other case, where a mother  had to sit on the floor with her disabled son!

Undoubtedly is the opposite that happens. But who is the villain here? Is it the bus driver? Ultimately the bus driver only has the power to deny access and  act as a mediator when conflicts arise by merely preventing someone else from boarding. And clearly when the bus driver most chooses to act, he rarely does it in a sensible matter. In all cases presented, the bus driver acted in the most unreasonable matter! And why is this allowed to happen?

I believe one problem here is the unclear policy firstly, as the policies change greatly from public transportation Companies, which have different conditions of carriage. Most companies, as First group, do not give the driver power to require (as opposing to request) a passenger to move out of the wheelchair or other priority spaces, or to leave the bus if he or she refuses to do so. Not allowed to be an enforcer, the bus driver leaves to the conscience of the passenger the willingness to move. Clearly this will not be resolved anytime soon, as the last court ruling showed, where companies are not obliged to enforce any sort of policy at their passengers. The problem however is that not every passenger might be a sensible one, which would force the driver to be, let’s say persuasive. That said, and since that the driver cannot enforce anyone to be sensible and move only leaves him the easy way out, which is deny the entrance to anyone who might cause any disturbance. 

However, that’s not the only issue here. I also believe that the main problem is a cultural one. Unfortunately society in general is selfish. How many times in bus rides we see passengers occupying special designated spaces while the rightful passenger is forced to stand? Or denied entrance? And no-one cared about this. Even if it is unlawful. If everyone would show some consideration, common sense, sensibility and manifest disapproval when such things happen, may be  wouldn´t even be necessary for the bus driver to act... But the main thing is, we do not want to cause any sort of havoc do we? Particularly if that would get us comfortably earlier at home.
I am linking up with these amazing bloggers:

Everything Mummy

Binky Linky
Post Comment Love



7 comments:

  1. Where do you live? I have to admit I found my bus experiences pretty stressful when I lived in London.

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    1. Southampton.... ! This happened on a Unilink bus. It wasn´t this bad... it´s just lately that my bus experience is becoming incredibly stressful! I am always worrying that I wont be able to board.

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  2. I wouldn't even contemplate going on a bus when my girls were babies. The double buggy would have been a nightmare. I feel for you. Thankfully now they're almost three we don't need the pushchair as much anymore. Thanks for linking up the #BinkyLinky

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    1. Bus rides should not be this bad...! yes, going on a bus with a double buggy would be pretty tricky....!
      Thank you for hosting! :) x

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  3. Yes, yes and yes!! Whenever I experience bus journeys, this is exactly what happens to mothers. I have not only been on the receiving end but also seen it happen. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x

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    Replies
    1. It should n´t be this difficult for mothers to rid on a bus....
      Thank you for hosting! x

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  4. how ridiculous not letting you on if their is plenty of space i would of complained! i used to always get the bus before i drove with the kids and no real problems thanks for linking up to #sundaystars

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