‘I try to stay pos­i­tive but this is up­set­ting’

Disabled man in bus driver row speaks out

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Amita Joshi amita.joshi@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A DISABLED Uxbridge res­i­dent who was turned away by a bus driver claim­ing there wasn’t space for a pushchair and his wheel­chair opened up about the dif­fi­cul­ties of trav­el­ling around the bor­ough.

Paul Toovey was wait­ing at a bus stop in Long Lane when the U2 ser­vice stopped in front of him.

But be­fore he could get on, the driver said “there is al­ready a pushchair” and told him to wait for the next bus.

De­spite Paul point­ing out there was enough space for him, he ex­plained how the pushchair user did not of­fer to make space for him and the driver re­fused to let him on.

The 29-year-old said: “What hap­pened is not the first time at all.

“I’ve for­got­ten num­ber of times com­plained.

“I’m not say­ing people who don’t have chil­dren aren’t im­por­tant, of course they are.

“But hav­ing a child is a choice. Hav­ing a dis­abil­ity isn’t. We should be treated in the same way.

“It’s not just about me, I’m not the only per­son in a wheel­chair, but it’s get­ting to a point where even though I try to stay pos­i­tive, it’s un­fair and it’s up­set­ting.”

He added what made the ex­pe­ri­ence more frus­trat­ing was the sec­ond driver al­lowed him to get on, de­spite their being two pushchairs on the bus.

“It’s up to the I’ve the bus driver be­cause they don’t have to ask people to move by law,” he said.

“But this sec­ond driver ac­tu­ally asked them to make way, which they did.

“I had to thank him once I got to my des­ti­na­tion and I wish all bus drivers did this.”

The is­sue has been high­lighted this month af­ter a wheel­chair user took his case to the Supreme Court af­ter say­ing bus firms should make able bod­ied people move from disabled spa­ces.

Doug Paul­ley from Leeds was told he could not get on a bus in 2012 when a mother with a pushchair re­fused to move.

A spokesper­son for Trans­port for Lon­don (TfL), re­spon­si­ble for the ser­vices, said: “We’re grap­pling with a sys­tem which isn’t per­fect.

“We can’t force some­one to move, it’s ter­ri­bly frus­trat­ing but we can’t en­force it as there’s no leg­is­la­tion.

“A bus driver can say some­thing and say it sternly, but we do de­pend on the good will of cus­tomers.”

‘I try to stay up­beat, even though in­ci­dents like this make it dif­fi­cult’

Af­ter being di­ag­nosed with rare brain dis­ease Su­per­fi­cial Sidero­sis which af­fects the ner­vous sys­tem, Paul has been in an elec­tric wheel­chair since 2012.

The con­di­tion has left him with se­verely im­paired hear­ing and speech dif­fi­cul­ties, some­thing he had never ex­pe­ri­enced.

Pre­vi­ously work­ing as a hospi­tal­ity waiter at Wem­b­ley sta­dium, Paul, who lives with his mother Jan­ice, said he has come to terms with not ever being mo­bile again and tries to stay up­beat, even though in­ci­dents such as this make it dif­fi­cult.

“Lots of things have changed which are hard to deal with, I’m a huge Read­ing foot­ball fan but can’t watch matches as get­ting around can be dif­fi­cult,” Paul added.

“I still re­mem­ber that I was set to be a per­former at the Lon­don 2012 Olympics open­ing cer­e­mony, and that was all taken away from me.

“This con­di­tion got me and it was the worst time.

“I’m in pain all the time but I won’t let it beat me.

“You stay pos­i­tive – but this kind of thing is un­fair.”

Char­ity Trans­port for All, which cam­paigns for ac­cess on pub­lic trans­port for wheel­chair users spoke to Paul fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent.

They said: “As you know, TfL gives all bus drivers clear guid­ance about pri­ori­tis­ing ac­cess to the des­ig­nated space to wheel­chair users.

“We nev­er­the­less asked them to in­ves­ti­gate what hap­pened and they will take ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures.”

n RARE CON­DI­TION: Paul was di­ag­nosed with Su­per­fi­cial Sidero­sis. Right, Paul at the Emi­rates sta­dium be­fore 2012, when he had to be­gin us­ing a wheel­chair

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.