Investigation launched after bus driver turns away Wembley disabled woman
Worker refused entry to wheelchair user despite being challenged by Times’ news editor
An investigation has been launched after a disabled woman was refused entry onto a bus in an incident witnessed by the Times.
Angela Smith, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, wanted to board the 297 outside Asda, in Forty Lane, last Wednesday.
But when she attempted to board the bus, its driver said she wasn’t allowed on because a pushchair was in the way.
Little did he know the Times’ news editor, Lorraine King, was also on board and when she pointed out that buggies should be folded to make room for a wheelchair, the driver snapped: “I don’t care.”
Despite being told to wait for the bus behind, two more bus drivers refused to let her on.
The ordeal resulted in Ms Smith being late to her appointment at a job centre where she was due to be signing on as a result of recently losing her job of nine years helping young disabled people in Hammersmith and Fulham.
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The 49-year-old, of Chalkhill Road, Wembley, said: “Eventually I was finally allowed to board a bus, freezing cold and very annoyed.
“The cards are heavily stacked against us. Just doing a simple task like going to the job centre to look for a job is hard enough yet we face unnecessary obstacles.
“Is Brent really ready to be one of the hosts for the Paralympic Games when it treats ordinary, regular, disabled people in this appalling way?”
According to Metroline spokesman, all drivers should request a buggy is folded to allow a wheelchair passenger to board or ask that the buggy is safely repositioned. He said: “We have identified the driver involved and can confirm a thorough investigation will take place.
“We apologise to Ms Smith for her experience. We regularly remind our drivers of this policy and will take the opportunity of doing so again.”
Mike Weston, Transport for London Operations Director for London Buses, added: “We would like to apologise to Ms Smith for the problems she has encountered. We would like to ensure her that TfL has instructed Metroline to investigate the incident. A driver is required to ask a passenger to fold their buggy if it is in the wheelchair space but it does also depend on the goodwill of the travelling public to cooperate.”
Passengers who encounter problems with bus services in London should call 0845 300 7000.