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Felixstowe: Wheelchair-users facing ‘pot luck’ on the buses

PUBLISHED: 08:52 07 February 2013 | UPDATED: 08:52 07 February 2013

Not all First Eastern Counties' buses can take wheelchair-users.

Not all First Eastern Counties' buses can take wheelchair-users.

Archant

DISABLED people are not guaranteed to get a bus ride at Felixstowe – facing “pot luck” when they turn up to wait at a stop, it was claimed today.

Despite thousands of pounds having been spent on raising pavements to provide access to vehicles, not all low-floor buses are suitable for wheelchair users on routes around the town.

Town councillor Michael Sharman described the situation as dreadful and called on people with disabilities to keep a log of times, stops and routes where they had been denied a ride because the bus could not take them.

“I spoke to First Eastern buses about the situation and they told me they were not obliged to provide low-floor buses and that Felixstowe is not on a designated route for them,” he said.

“The bus I travelled back to Felixstowe on one evening this week was 19 years old and there was no way a disabled person could have got onto it. It wasn’t just the step up but it had a dividing barrier for passengers at the entrance, too.

“Apparently, if a person in a wheelchair turns up at a bus stop there is no guarantee they can get onto the bus and they may have to sit and wait for the next one or the one after that. I certainly wouldn’t want to do that in this weather.

“It seems it’s just a matter of luck if you get a ride.

“It is disgusting and a dreadful situation that really needs sorting out.

“I would like to see people in wheelchairs keeping a log of the times, bus numbers and stops where they have had problems.”

A spokesman for First Eastern said all vehicles in the Ipswich fleet were “low floor access” but nine of them do not have facilities on board for passengers with wheelchairs or push-chairs.

“This is an issue we are aware of and are addressing over the coming months by replacing these vehicles with newer, DDA compliant buses that do have the necessary bays for wheelchairs and push-chairs,” he said.

“Wherever possible, we try to ensure that all routes have vehicles that cater for all passengers.”

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