A survey of buses suggests that on four out of ten bus journeys, passengers are not given sufficient time to find a seat.
800 older people a day fall on buses, according to research by GfK NOP. For younger people too with a mobility impairment, tripping on a bus can be a real concern. Being given time to find a seat before the bus lurches away from a stop is key to preventing falls.
For those over 75, injuries caused by falls, especially hip fractures, are a leading cause of death. One in five of those who have fallen on a bus have had to seek medical attention.
Mrs Rashid, 72 from Stanmore was thrown onto the floor of the bus from her seat, after the driver stamped on the breaks unexpectedly.
“I was left with cuts and bruises and was shaking. I really feel bus drivers and bus companies need to consider older passengers like me better“.
The survey also found that on a quarter of bus journeys, buses do not pull in tightly to the kerb, making it much harder and potentially dangerous for older people to step into or off to the pavement. Last year, a pensioner from Pimlico died after falling into the gap between the bus and pavement.
Bus companies in London currently must train their drivers in disability awareness, but Transport for All believe that the training does not do enough to involve disabled and older people. Faryal Velmi, director of Transport for All, observed a Metro Line training session in 2010 . “Whilst we welcome the fact that there is some disability awareness training included in the bus driver BTEC qualification – there is much room for improvement. Firstly the introduction to the social model of disability is very academic and just flew over the heads of the drivers there. It needs to be supplemented with real life examples and experiences. Ultimately disabled and older people need to be involved in the training, so we can directly express what our needs are as passengers“.
The report, On the Buses, calls for Transport for London to commit to funding making 100% of bus stops accessible. Some bus stops in London do not have sufficient ‘run-up’ to allow even the most skilful bus driver to come right into the kerb.
It is likely that falls on buses are chronically underreported. Buses used to carry complaint forms, making it easier for passengers to report falls or poor driving, especially those passengers without internet access. However, many people have a ‘mustn’t grumble’ attitude, and are reluctant to complain when they suffer a bad experience on the buses.
Transport for All advises anyone who has fallen on a bus to report it to our Advice and Advocacy line, so we can take it up with TfL and the bus company.