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Disabled woman left in the rain by bus drivers

PUBLISHED: 06:30 17 August 2011

Gail Baverstock with her broken wheelchair.; Photo: Bill Smith

Gail Baverstock with her broken wheelchair.; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

A disabled woman has told of her anger after two bus drivers refused to let her board and left her waiting in the pouring rain.

Gail Baverstock, 60, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was forced to wait an hour and a half before a driver helped her. She said that two buses showing the disabled badge pulled up and after everyone had boarded, she moved so the drivers could lower the ramp, but instead they ignored her and closed the door. Bus company First says it has “taken the appropriate action” against the drivers.

Miss Baverstock, who lives in Thorpe St Andrew, said: “I wanted to get on the bus. I allowed the walking passengers to get on first and then I moved my chair closer to the door and they closed it with no explanation. The bus driver didn’t speak to me. It’s not nice to be ignored.”

After getting soaked in the rain, Miss Baverstock’s wheelchair stopped working and she is now unable to leave her room.

She added: “I pay my fare like any other passenger. I do not expect people to treat me like I am invisible just because I use a wheelchair. I was angry. I want to be treated like a normal person. Yes I need a ramp, but is that too much to ask? Anybody could end up in my position.”

Miss Baverstock had spent the day shopping and was trying to get the number 19 bus from Castle Meadow to Heartsease on August 4. She said: “I was told by a passenger that there were no wheelchairs or pushchairs on the bus and there was no reason for me not to get home. I was shocked that in this day and age people still aren’t comfortable with disabled needs. To me it’s my daily life – it’s not anything new. It’s sad. I’m no different from anyone else, just because I’m on wheels. I have been disabled all my life.”

A spokesman for First said: “Our Customer Service Team received contact from Miss Baverstock on August 12 and we have acknowledged her comments. It is our company policy to assist passengers in wheelchairs where possible. The actions of the drivers concerned have been investigated and appropriate action has been taken against them. We would like to apologise to Miss Baverstock for the inconvenience caused.”

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