Scooter users who are allowed to travel on buses in their scooter will be asked to take a training session in entering and exiting buses safely. On completion of this, they will be granted a credit card sized permit which will guarantee them carriage with all of the six companies that have signed up to the Code.
The six bus companies are:
- Blackpool Transport Services Ltd
- Country Bus
- East Yorkshire Motor Services
- National Express
- Quality Bus
- Thamesdown Transport
- Western Greyhound.
With ever increasing numbers of people using mobility scooters, this voluntary regulation has been cautiously welcomed by older and disabled people.
In London, Transport for London’s policy is that scooters are allowed onto buses subject to the discretion of the driver. The Big Red Book, the guide to bus driving used by all London bus drivers, states “As a general rule, if you think [the wheelchair or bus] will fit safely into the wheelchair space, it is okay to allow it but large motorised scooters with handlebars cannot travel on buses.“
In practice though, confusion reigns and scooter users state that bus drivers are inconsistent in their attitudes. The situation is worsened because the Big Red Book, the guide to bus driving that all London bus drivers must use, carries a confusing picture which suggests that anything with handlebars cannot be allowed on the bus.
Transport for All believe that it is fair that some of the largest scooters are not allowed on buses, as the heaviest can break ramps and block the aisle. But many scooters are substantially smaller than some of the powerchairs and pushchairs which are regularly carried on buses. Clearly, the current system in London is unfair and unjustly bars some scooter users from being able to use buses to get out and about beyond the very small radius their scooter’s battery life will allow them.
At time of writing, how scooter users can apply for the permit and the content of training is still unclear. Wheelchair users do not have to undergo training before they are allowed on buses, and so the this potential disparity is a cause for concern. Transport for All believe that training can be useful in increasing confidence in using the buses, but if it is mandatory, or difficult to access, then it is a potential barrier to using buses rather than increasing scooter users’ freedom.
Transport for All urge anyone considering buying a mobility scooter to check what models are allowed on buses.
If you live outside London and want to know whether your local bus route is run by one of the companies who have signed the code of practice, you can find out by entering the route number on FixMyTransport website.