Campaign for buses for disabled

PUBLISHED: 11:06 07 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:32 25 May 2010

A DISABLED woman campaigning for accessible buses in Nailsea feels she has been emotionally blackmailed by the bus operator First.

A DISABLED woman campaigning for accessible buses in Nailsea feels she has been emotionally blackmailed by the bus operator First.

Every hour of every day a bus passes Alison Morgan's house but she cannot use the service due to the high vehicle floors.

For more than a year the 48-year-old has been writing to First in the hope that an accessible bus could be occasionally used on the 364 service, enabling her to travel to Backwell, Clevedon and Bristol.

However, unless Alison can afford to take the company to court, she will be left stranded in Nailsea with not many places to go.

The Birdlip Close resident said: "I have a travel card that allows me to travel for free but have never used it.

"The situation is so frustrating and must be for the elderly and people with pushchairs too.

"Every now and then there will be an accessible bus on the route but I never know when that will be and whether there will be one coming back to Nailsea.

"If I knew there would be maybe one in the morning and one in the afternoon I could plan trips around this."

Alison has been using a wheelchair for seven years due to a condition called unspecified myositis.

During good weather she is able to use her chair to visit friends and go to the shops.

However, when the weather is bad she is left stuck in her house with nowhere to go.

As part of her campaigning efforts, Alison asked the Avon and Bristol Law Centre to write a formal letter to First asking for reasons why an accessible bus could not be used regularly on the 364 route.

First explained that because the route was not profitable and was a rural service it would not be economical to upgrade any of the buses on it.

Alison was also told that First does not have a legal obligation to provide accessible buses on all routes until 2016, according to the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations.

She was also told that providing upgraded buses on the 364 route could jeopardise its frequency or result in other services having to be scaled down.

Alison said: "I really don't think this is acceptable and seems a bit like emotional blackmail.

"I have now come to a sticking point and unless I take the company to court I am left watching the buses passing me by."

A First spokesman said: "First currently operates a combination of low floor and non-low floor buses.

"As a result of this we are unable to guarantee low floor buses on the 364 service.

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