As I write, the BBC News channel is showing the message that the Supreme Court has decided in favour of Doug Pauley and wheelchair users in the “Who has the right to the space on the bus” argument. None of the coverage is dealing with the biggest issues in this:
- How will this be enforced?
- How can the industry properly convey the priority to customers?
- What will be required to improve the situation?
Ultimately, a driver is going to be put in the middle and therefore at risk of passenger dissatisfaction or worse, potential violence. Is this right? Of course not. How can this potential situation be mitigated against?
In my humble opinion, there are three things:
- The bus industry chose to market the wheelchair space and accessible buses as “buggy friendly” or “buggy buses”. That marketing now needs to change and be clear.
- The bus industry chose to invite buggies on board. The internal layout now needs to change where appropriate to give space to both buggies and wheelchairs.
- Customers need to be reminded they can help each other – assisting lifting a buggy into a luggage rack, giving up a seat, considering our fellow traveller.
Regardless of the arguments of who is paying a fare or using an ENCTS pass (which is a separate discussion), everyone needs to get from their bus stop to the destination. How they get there is down to us as an industry – we can get the customer there either seething in anger or with a smile and customer satisfaction.
Alternatively, we can let the law makers decide for us (again).