‘I try to stay positive but this is upsetting’
Disabled man in bus driver row speaks out
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