Court rules bus firms not required to put wheelchair users above parents with buggies

Jessica Morris
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The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of First Bus (Source: Getty)

Bus companies are not legally obliged to force parents with buggies to make room for wheelchair users, the court of appeal ruled today.

In September, Leeds county court said transport operator First Bus' policy of "requesting but not requiring" non-disabled travellers to make room for wheelchair users breached the Equality Act 2010.

It followed an incident in February 2012 whereby wheelchair user Doug Paulley was refused access to a First Bus in Leeds after a woman with a buggy refused to move because her baby was asleep.

But today, three judges allowed an appeal by First Group, which had previously been ordered to pay £5,500 damages to Paulley.

They said the proper remedy would be for wheelchair users to ask parliament to give bus drivers greater powers, allowing them to do more to ensure disabled people can access bus services.

Lord Justice Underhill said in the judgement:

It has to be accepted that our conclusion and reasoning in this case means that wheelchair users will occasionally be prevented by other passengers from using the wheelchair space on the bus.

Sometimes there will be a reasonable justification for that happening; but sometimes there will not.

I do not, however, believe that the fact that some passengers will - albeit rarely - act selfishly and irresponsibly is a sufficient reason for imposing on bus companies a legal responsibility for a situation which is not of their making and which they are not in a position to prevent.

Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Lewison also delivered the judgement.

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