Bus company hits back in access row

A BUS company has responded to criticism about poor disabled access on their vehicles – by suggesting the county council raise all their kerbs.Double-decker buses with manual wheelchair ramps have been operating on the Superoute 66 service through Kesgrave and Martlesham since November.

A BUS company has responded to criticism about poor disabled access on their vehicles - by suggesting the county council raise all their kerbs.

Double-decker buses with manual wheelchair ramps have been operating on the Superoute 66 service through Kesgrave and Martlesham since November.

But users have complained that drivers are often reluctant to leave their cabs to operate the ramps.

The problem was highlighted earlier this year when teenager Luke O'Brien explained he was unable to use the new buses because drivers were unwilling to leave their cabs to help him get on.


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Martlesham parish council wrote to First Eastern Counties Buses to express their concerns and were staggered by the letter they received in response.

Lynne Lodge, parish council clerk, said: "The members are very disappointed with what they feel is a patronising response."

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"The letter was debated at our last council meeting and councillors felt it was extremely unreasonable to expect the county council to spend public money to alleviate the problem of access for disabled passengers when research by them, prior to purchasing the new buses, could have avoided difficulties with different heights of kerbs and ramps."

The letter, from John Pope, managing director of First Eastern Counties, said: "There are concerns the driver has to leave the cab unattended in order to assist.

"The solution elsewhere in the country is that the local authorities provide raised kerbs, which mean the kerb height and the bus platform are level."

Speaking to The Evening Star, Mr Pope said: "I've been in correspondence with the parish council for sometime about the 66 service. In fact, I've actually been out on a bus with a disabled passenger to try to understand the problems, and it's quite clear a raised kerb would help.

"All over the country on low floor bus routes many local authorities are putting in a range of heightened kerbs.

"I think all local authorities should have a programme of raising kerbs anyway, because low floor buses are becoming the norm. It's something I will be raising with Suffolk County Council."

Previously, the single-decker buses on the routes had electronic ramps. These were replaced because they were unreliable.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk county council confirmed they are looking in to the possibility of raising kerbs at the bus stops.

nAre you a disabled person living in this area? Do you think this is a good solution to the problem? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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