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Adapted Vehicle Hire News Updates: Bus company faces court action over disabled accessibility

Arriva North East has been taken to court this week, after failing to provide “reasonable adjustments” for disabled passengers.

The bus operator is being challenged on two counts of failing to abide by the Equality Act: firstly by not ensuring the designated wheelchair space is given up by non-disabled passengers who don’t require it; and secondly for failing to put down ramps to allow disabled passengers to board the buses.

Since 2006, the law says transport providers have a duty to make “reasonable adjustments” to accommodate disabled passengers.

Jane Elliot is one of the claimants and described in court being left at the bus stop because there was no space in the section of the bus which is by rights hers.

According to Ms Elliot’s lawyer, Arriva’s policy of ‘first come, first served’ towards the wheelchair section of the bus is in direct contradiction with the act: “[This policy] clearly puts the claimants at a substantial disadvantage when compared with non-disabled service users, as they are unable to travel on the bus unless the designated wheelchair space is available.”

This is the first case of its kind against a transport company and could potentially set a precedent for how the equality act is followed in future.

Transport for London recently launched a campaign to remind passengers that the wheelchair priority space on buses is primarily for wheelchair users. To ensure the rule is followed, the bus driver can use an automated message or the PA system to alert passengers when a wheelchair user comes aboard and remind them to vacate the designated space. The bus driver can also refuse to drive on until the wheelchair space is freed up.

Arriva North East disputes the claim and says it acts in accordance with the law. It also argues that its drivers cannot force people with buggies or shopping to vacate the wheelchair area.

For the best range of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVS) or cars with specialist adaptations, visit Adapted Vehicle Hire.