A disabled grandmother has hit out at a coach company and accused them of “discrimination” after she said it refused to allow her to board the bus with her mobility scooter.
Lesley McMaster was left to travel for 1.5 miles in the pouring rain to visit her sick daughter and grandchildren after a staff member for Nu-Venture allegedly told her she wasn’t allowed on the bus with the scooter.
She claimed the bus driver told her it was “too heavy” and that it was up to his discretion whether to let her on.
The 54-year-old often uses a scooter or walking stick to get around due to complex medical needs.
This time she had opted to use the scooter because she was weighed down with shopping for the ill family.
The nan from Dartford, Kent, usually gets picked up by her daughter, but because the family were sick she had to use public transport to get to them.
This meant that to get to her daughter’s home in Tovil, Lesley had to get a total of three buses – the A or B bus for Bluewater to Chatham, the 101 from Chatham to Maidstone, then the 23 from Maidstone town centre to Tovil.
But despite the first two bus journeys going smoothly, Lesley said she was prevented from carrying out the rest of her journey on public transport on the last leg.
She said that the Nu-Venture No. 23 service would not let her on the bus despite having ramps that lower, via a driver’s seat button.
Explaining what happened, she said: “I often travel by bus either with my walking stick or my scooter.
“On this occasion, I had to take shopping to my daughter’s house, so I took my scooter with me.
“All of the buses I used in Dartford had no issue with my scooter whatsoever. However, the buses in Maidstone refused to let me on.
“They said it was too heavy and down to driver discretion if I was allowed on the bus.”
This wasn’t the first time that Lesley claimed to have had a problem with the same bus company
She added: “The other day there was one driver from Nu-Venture who was going to allow me on the bus but the ramp was broken.
“Another passenger had to help me lift the scooter onto the bus.”
Lesley said she was forced to use a muddy path in the rain to get to her daughter, but said that she wouldn’t be doing it again.
She added: “It’s discrimination, how else am I meant to get to Tovil if public transport won’t allow me on? The weather was awful.
“I won’t be doing it again, but I chose the footpath that goes along the river and it was so muddy and slippery.
“Next time I will go along the roads instead, even though it is further to go.”
The grandmother hasn’t had issues with other bus companies and praised Arriva bus drivers who are “always happy to help” despite having to work the ramps manually.
She said: “The Arriva bus drivers are great, in order to help me on they actually have to leave the cab and physically put the ramp down. They never complain and are always happy to help.
“But Nu-Venture, who can lower their ramps with a button from their driver’s seat, just point blank refuse.
“I really don’t understand why Nu-Venture are making such a fuss with this, it’s not a huge mobility scooter, it is the size of a double buggy.”
Nu-Venture said only wheelchair users are covered under the Equality Act, not people with mobility scooters.
A spokesperson for Nu-Venture said: “We welcome wheelchair users on all our buses.
“The equality legislation has, since 2017, required all buses used on local bus services to be wheelchair accessible.
“The legislative provision is for wheelchairs. Mobility scooters are much heavier and are not covered by the regulations.
“Drivers have no ‘discretion’ in the matter – they are required to follow the law in relation to this matter at all times.”