First bus company investigating driver after complaint by disabled woman

Sally-Ann Oakes upset at the way she was treated by the driver as she boarded a First bus in her wheelchair. Picture...

Sally-Ann Oakes upset at the way she was treated by the driver as she boarded a First bus in her wheelchair. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

A bus company is investigating one of its drivers after a disabled woman complained about her treatment on a journey from the city centre to her home, off Blue Boar Lane, in Sprowston.

Wheelchair-user Sally-Ann Oakes, 31, who has spina bifida and suffers with severe chronic back pain, said her problems started when she boarded a number 11 bus at Castle Meadow, at about 5pm on Thursday, October 24.

She said the driver firstly would not let her on board because he said there were already two buggies on the bus.

And then she said he 'literally shoved' her up the ramp.

She said: 'I yelped very loudly as soon as he started doing this, but he took no notice and just carried on shoving me, like I was a nuisance that needed getting out of the way.

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'He didn't say a word – no apology, despite the fact I was in obvious pain by this point. I then had to endure a 30 minute journey with hideous back pain.

'As a result, I've been extremely upset and in a shocking amount of pain for the last few days.'

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She said she had to speak out because it was 'just shocking that in this day and age, a bus driver, who serves hundreds of members of the public every day, can be so ignorant about the needs – and rights of disabled people.

'It is hard enough living with significant health problems, which can be very isolating; to then be subjected to such discrimination and pain is awful.'

A First spokesman said: 'It is our policy to provide wheelchair users with priority of use of the wheelchair space set aside on our buses, and our drivers are trained to politely ask any customer who may be using the space, including push-chair users, to make way for a wheelchair user.

'We were therefore disappointed to learn of the problems Miss Oakes had boarding one of our services. We have launched an investigation so that we can understand what exactly happened on October 24 and take appropriate action.'

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