Wheelchair Access on Buses

Back to all Motions

2017 Water, Environment & Transport Conference
28 February 2017

Conference notes the Supreme Court ruling in January 2017 on the FirstGroup V Pauley case, and the issue raised under the Equality Act 2010 for “reasonable adjustment” and whether a bus companies policy or “provision criterion or practice” (PCP) was been met in relation to wheelchair users. In particular, whether a bus driver should compel other passengers, disabled or non-disabled, to vacate the area dedicated for wheelchairs if it is required by a wheelchair user.

Whilst the judgement does not state that it is an absolute rule or that drivers must enforce the vacating of a wheelchair space by a non- wheelchair user, the judges felt it would not be unreasonable for the driver to be expected to ask it to be more than a “favour”, one even going as far to state that to coerce passengers it may not be unreasonable to refuse to move the vehicle for a short period of time.

UNISON is a proud and active supporter of disability rights, however, we feel that the Supreme Court ruling places too much pressure on drivers and other staff associated with passenger transport to deal with the issue with no actual legal support. This in its self is likely to increase the likelihood of conflict. Furthermore there is concern that the ruling may be used by employers to discipline staff for not been robust enough should they receive a complaint, in this regard.

Conference calls on the WET SGE to

1. Initiate a consultation with members from the areas of concern within the Bus and Passenger Transport Executive/Combined Authority branches, on the impact of this ruling.

2. Share the findings of the consultation with management of the bus companies, Combined Authorities and the Department of Transport with the aim to finding a workable solution to the issues raised.

3. To work with the bus companies, Campaign for Better Transport, disabled groups and sister trade unions via the TUC to draft a Code of Practice to protect frontline staff.