SAAP is very concerned that disabled users of mobility scooters in Stirlingshire, who were previously carried on First Buses, are now being refused entry to McGills Buses. Although McGills have only recently taken over the contract, we know that the same problem exists in other areas, so as well as writing to McGills, we’ve written to MACS, and our local Councillors and MSP. When we met Emma Roddick, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees at the DES AGM, we were surprised that she was unaware of the issue, so we have also raised it with the Scottish Government.
We view McGills position as direct discrimination under the Equality Act, and it is vital that mobility scooter users have access to buses, particularly in rural areas where there is no alternative public transport.
However, McGills’ CEO has said that they comply with the Equality Act, and that a wheelchair space on a bus is for wheelchairs only. They suggest that a folding mobility scooter may be brought onto a bus when folded, and that if this is not an option due to the restrictions of an individual’s disability, then an electric wheelchair is a solution.
We are aware of the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) 2000, and a voluntary code on mobility scooters issued by the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, which have not been adopted by McGills. The Code does not recognise the mandatory legislation of the Equality Act 2010, and law should supersede voluntary codes, so ensuring that bus companies provide an inclusive service.
We are continuing to advocate on this as electric mobility scooters are not going to go away. They may even be more prevalent than other means of personal accessible transport given our ageing society with currently over 19% aged over 65, and with the disabled comprising 22% of the Scottish population.