The long winded battle over the rights of a wheelchair user versus a pushchair user has finally been settled by the supreme court. This article has been all over the news recently and stems from an incident in 2012 when the wheelchair user was denied access on to the bus as the only space that was safe for wheelchair transport was already in use by a mother which a child in a pushchair.
Originally described as discrimination, the wheelchair user Mr Paulley, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, has campaigned to see a little more understanding and courtesy towards o accommodating wheelchair users on public transport.
The outcome is that bus drivers will now have to do more to accommodate wheelchair users although bus drivers would not be asked to remove non compliant customers from its vehicles.
Mr Paulley said the ruling would make "a major difference" to wheelchair users allowing them greater freedom and confidence of being able to board a bus in their wheelchair knowing that they are likely to find a safe and suitable space. During the hearing, the court said the bus company should consider additional steps to persuade non-wheelchair users to move, without making it a legal duty to move them. Although it must be made clear that the judgment falls short of making it a legal requirement for the bus companies to compel non-wheelchair passengers to move from the space.
Described as "an important milestone" by the disability charity Scope, it seems like good news for all wheelchair users and hopefully part of a bugger recognition of the daily problems faced by users of wheelchairs.
Bus drivers are now feeling that they may be put in an awkward position by having to ask non wheelchair users to vacate the space intended to securely transport the wheelchair but it is hoped that the running and the associated press will increase the awareness of the plights facing those in wheelchairs.
When asked whether the verdict had gone far enough, Mr Paulley said the issue would always involve "a matter of judgment" from drivers. However, Mr Paulley's solicitor, Chris Fry, said the ruling had fallen short.
"The judgement should have gone further - there's no right as things currently stand to force someone off a bus. So it goes as far as that, but not that far yet."
So although no one wants to see a pram or pushchair being transported in an unsafe way, most fold and this would allow them to be stowed and the space be occupied by a wheelchair.