Bus driver subjects disability activist to humiliating discrimination

[Image: Getty.]

I don’t know Paula Peters personally, but everyone in the UK who has a disability should be aware of her activism, fighting government changes to benefit conditionality, fighting injustice against people who are forced to endure pain and prejudice through no fault of their own, and trying to make the UK a country in which life for the disabled is bearable, despite Conservative government policy.

If conditions for people with disabilities is any more bearable today than the Tories intended when they came back into office in 2010, it is because of Ms Peters and people like her.

If you don’t believe me, just type her name into This Site’s search box and read about a few of the initiatives in which she has taken part.

What follows is an example of the way she is treated, because she has a disability. It is deeply unpleasant; it is a stain upon our lives as citizens of the UK today.

Why do we sit quietly and tolerate this abuse?

It has taken a week for me to write this as was too upset to put this into words. I want to share this with you all now.

This is an experience I had on the R3 bus last wednesday morning 16th August 2017 at 10.40 am.

I had chaos with me. I call my tri rollerator walker Chaos. I give names to my mobility equipment, it helps me deal with the fact I need the equipment as part of my every day life.

I need to use chaos as unsteady on my feet due to POTS and lots of other health issues. Its not much fun falling over with no warning.

Chaos has a seat so I can sit down when i need to rest. I can fold it up when required to do so.

I often take chaos into the wheelchair space when no wheelchair user is using the space a) to keep the walk way free so other passengers can get to the back of the bus and b) more room for me to get in and out of the bus easily and somewhere for me to sit down. I would move for a wheelchair user if required to do so. I never get offered a seat in priority seating or one easy for me to access. I have often experienced abuse on the bus when asked, which has left me distressed. There have been times I have been threatened with physical violence, called a scrounger, fraudster and worse. I have to say not one person on the bus came to my aid on those occasions.

Anyway, last week experience on the R3. I waited for the bus to arrive at my local stop. Doors opened, driver saw my walker and immediately looked behind her at the wheelchair space where a pram was already parked to see if i could get in. There was plenty of room for me, but could see the driver was not happy about me boarding the bus and tutted loudly when I did so. As I went past her to access the space I got fucking disabled people should not be allowed on any bus.

I ignored it, not the first time I have had that to be honest, and before bus drivers on my wall have a go at me, not every bus driver is like this, and I have met many who are lovely people go the extra mile and i see first hand the abuse they get from passengers every day and feel for many of them.

So I get in the wheelchair space. I sit on my tri rollerator and another pram user comes on behind me and immediately goes into wheelchair space. I said to driver there is a pram already here and myself. There was not room to swing a cat. I get told aggressively by driver the space is for wheelchairs and I can move fold up my tri rollerator and sit on a seat. Well there were no seats for me to sit in where i had access to fold up chaos and keep the tri rollerator out of the way and I could not access the back of the bus.

Driver then thought I was being awkward and decided to switch off her engine. I took my headphones out of my ears and said to her what is the problem? Got told to move. I said I have no where to move to and as wheelchair user is not on the bus i am in the right space for my mobility equipment.

I then get threatened to be removed from the bus! By the driver! I told her she was discriminating against me and not taking my access requirements into account and putting my safety at risk. I then get screamed at which triggers my anxiety and has me on the verge of tears.

I get out my notebook to make a note of the date and the time and get the bus driver’s number located at door. MB 321 a metrobus bus. So time 10.40 am 16th August 2017 Wednesday 2017 in case anyone here thinks I am making this story up which I am not. I have a friend of mine who can back up this story who saw me in deep distress within two minutes getting of the busl later on as I was shaking like a jelly and in tears.

Because I got out my notebook to make a note of the time and date, I then get abuse from the passengers and accused of being rude to the driver. I can assure you now I was not, but the driver screamed at me and I got sworn at by three passengers.

I am sick and tired of having a daily battle to access public transport. Sick and tired of being looked at like I am a fraudster and I don’t need need a mobility aid. Well, people want to try living with what I have see the pain I am in on a daily basis with RA, Fibro POTS and the balance problems I experience on an hourly basis, and the severe and enduring mental health issues I have on top of all of that.

I often feel anxious leaving the house, mainly because I do not feel safe when leaving the house because a I can fall and hurt myself, but mainly because of people’s appalling attitudes towards disabled people like myself.

I did not ask for my disability. No one does. All I want to do is live my life, access services and public transport and go about my way. Life is made all that much harder because of incidents like this.

Needless to say I have not used the local bus again. I do not feel safe to do and it has ramped my anxiety up.

To the bus company, while you have many good drivers, you also have ones who need to seriously have updated disability equality and awareness training and one driver’s bad attitude gives the company a bad name.

Anyone can become disabled. Anyone. It can happen to the bus driver. In the world we are living in now and the high rate of stress, she could have a break down. No one is immune from that.

I am scared to complain due to retribution. I took a risk to write this because I am frightened of a back lash. But, if I do not write and share my experiences and show just how bad things are getting how can i encourage anyone else to.

I feel deeply sad, disappointed by people’s attitudes, but most of all scared. It is getting to the stage due to the reheotric, in large part due to the government propaganda in our media that has caused such huge divisions in society that has seen an implosion of hate crime towards disabled people and society thinking we deserve to be treated in this way.

I have rights, I am a human being and I will not stay silent on incidents such as this any longer.

I am glad Ms Peters had the presence of mind to note the details of the bus, the date and time – and I have no problem with re-publishing them here. Let the driver be identified; let us see how the bus company handles prejudice by its employees.

Let us all remember: Bus companies are legally obliged to give priority to wheelchair users over mothers with baby buggies after a court ruling in January; that ruling is pointless if they continue discriminating against other people with disabilities.

And if any of us witness the same, I hope we have the courage to stand up and support the disabled person. These ugly incidents happen because good people do nothing, and that makes them complicit.

Don’t be complicit.

Set a better example.


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14 thoughts on “Bus driver subjects disability activist to humiliating discrimination

  1. laurettalottiepearson

    I suffer Meniere’s because of collapsing and hitting my head on the floor. I was born with Ebstein’s Anomaly and developed Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy probably due to a cox 2 to keep me going to work with slipped discs. I then developed amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis. After a Meniere’s attack I suffer vertigo and can fall at any time. I am having to pay £100 for a report because CAPITA want further evidence from my GP I need a home visit for my face-to-face interview. They already have a report from my Consultant. I have been spoken to worse than you would hear a cruel person speak to a dog. The Murdoch media and this minority government have a lot to answer for!! Bless this Lady. I wish I could give her a hug.

  2. NMac

    What a sad story. The divisive Tory propaganda and nastiness has had its evil effects on some people. I have to say that on our local buses people are generally very helpful and sympathetic to disabled and elderly people.

  3. thejaffer

    This driver should be sacked and prosecuted for discrimination against a disabled person. If a few get prosecuted and the fact is publicised the rest should think more than twice before taking these actions.

  4. loonytoonz

    That is horrendously disgusting treatment, it should be grounds for instant dismissal. Surely the bus cctv will have captured enough of that driver’s actions to corroborate the poor woman’s account and show aggressive, intimidating body language from the driver, that was needless and extreme.
    It’s totally sickening. Yet condoned, if not publicly encouraged by those who are setting the examples with their nasty games in Westminster

  5. Jeffrey davies

    Oh Paula whot a saint yet there are those who believe this crap from government and media wait untill they are disabled by a accident or just sick I wonder could they this woman takes daily of those who should now better it makes me sick to see others treat those with disabilities this way jeff3

  6. David Bacon

    I’m not disabled, just old. I’ve only had one run in with a driver who went past my stop and I’d rung the bell in plenty of time. He was quite abusive, but it was late in the day, lots of traffic and I save him the benefit of the doubt and thought he might be very stressed, so I didn’t report it. Ms Peters’ treatment is wholly unacceptable and I hope the buck stops in the right place. The driver seems to be unfit for purpose.

  7. Brian

    Described above is the attitude of passengers and a worker in the public service industry. I propose the description of ‘disabled’ be substituted by ‘black’, then this would be front page news by our propagandist media.

  8. disabledgrandad

    Like the lady my backside loves the ground so much they visit so regulatory i treat it with dark humor. I have got more militant and will stand up and tell them it’s not on and have in the past defended myself from violence. Sorry i won’t become a victim and let anyone walk over me! Just because of some stupid idea’s they have or have from politicians, or the discussing TV programs!

    Disabled people have to stand up and NOT let anyone walk over them any more. She is talking up now but it’s to late the CCTV will be wiped i bet and no evidence. Your word against them so nothing will be done and that’s how this sort of slime get away with it!

  9. Fi Webster

    That’s awful. It’s amazing to think that the buses changed due to disabled activists who gave up their time and put themselves through pain and humiliation to get the bus services to purchase more accessible buses.

    No mothers with buggies campaigned for it. Yet they have benefited greatly and some even perceive the change was for them – which was not true.

    The way I see it is if you are fit and well, then there are two options. A) decide to wait for the next bus. B) decide to fold up the buggy and store it with the shopping and go and sit down the bus with the baby.

    If you are disabled the choice is less because you can’t just fold up your equipment and have the ability to lift and store it, then walk down the bus without the aid as this may lead to a fall. A fall which may injure another passenger as well as yourself so it is a good idea to sit in that space and the aid is by you.

    I think it would be good to inform the bus service as to what took place, if only to aid their managers agree a policy and share with the bus drivers. Some drivers have little experience with disability. In our local community disabled people volunteer to to get on/off bus stops to aid the drivers to practice lowering the bus, sorting the ramp out etc… But then again thry took ownership and perceived the issue was with their service and not disabled passangers.

    As to the people who think disabled people shouldn’t travel on a bus. Why should disabled people be excluded? Especially if they have more difficulty walking. Bus services are to transport people! If people recognised how thin the line is between health and poor health maybe they would think differently.

    The media has been plugging that benefit cheats are disabled but in fact there was more cheating from those who were able but unemployed. This was not accurately reported as it did not suit the agenda of the government who sought to reduce the benefits to the most vulnerable in our society.

    I keep telling people that most of us will be ill or have a disability before we die. Few in society live healthy and then poof! So our approach should be one for the long-term view but many have self interest and the now.

  10. 61chrissterry

    Shared on 61chrissterry.

    Due to the Governments activities and some media articles, some members of the general public feel they have a right to abuse disabled people.

    The bus driver of the R3 metrobus acted in a disgraceful, disgusting and abusive manner to Ms Paula Peters and the bus driver does need reporting to Metrobus.

    Verbal abuse to a disabled person is a disability hate crime and the bus driver should be dealt with accordingly and so should all others who are guilty of disability hate crime. Until this is done as a matter of course this form of abuse and criminal activity will continue and more than likely increase.

  11. Kaye Lowe

    As far as the bus companies are concerned they only have make allowances for *wheelchair* users. Not those of us who use rollators, scooters or other mobility aids. Their rules say wheelchair users get priority. Add in the tabloid war on the disabled on behalf of the government & you get anything from despicable comments & abuse to outright refusal to let you even board the bus if you happen to use anything but a wheelchair (& even then the abuse is just as likely). 🙁

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yeah, notice I mention that the ruling is pointless if bus companies continue discriminating against other people with disabilities.

  12. wildthing666

    I have been told I am not disabled many times and I always reply “One more f***ing word out of you and you will be dead or claiming disability benefits for what is left of your life.” Once within earshot of a police officer, who arrested me so I told him he will be facing charges himself for wrongful arrest, abuse of power in public office and disability discrimination. The officer in the van that turned up to take me away just spoke to the other officer and I was de-arrested, but I still complained about him. That was 10 years ago.
    A few times it has led to an actual confrontation but so far I have always won. They think a person with disabilities won’t know how to defend themselves but they soon find out otherwise.

  13. It's Me

    So sad the attitudes that have been formed, since a decade ago. That it is alright to treat vulnerable people in this sick way.

Comments are closed.