CHARGING young mums extra to take babies on buses is one of the ideas in a consultation aiming to find a solution to Lothian Buses’ controversial “pram ban”.
Research is being undertaken by the bus company into its “accessibility policy” with the long-running issue of prams at the top of the agenda.
The Babies on Buses action group is attempting to reverse the policy which sees drivers turn away buggies which cannot be folded down, in case the space is required by a wheelchair user.
The campaigners say it results in mums with very young babies being unable to travel, because many buggies suitable for children of that age cannot be folded down.
As part of the new consultation, independent researchers have suggested a range of possible options including a compulsory buggy ticket – allowing onward travel, but costing more than a standard ticket – at a meeting with the group.
Campaigner Caroline Burgess, 30, an HR worker from Barnton, said she hoped it would not be pursued.
She said: “It just sounds totally unfair. You need a buggy to carry a baby on a bus.
“And when you are talking about people who have just had a baby they will probably be on quite low income. Would they charge someone extra for taking luggage on board or for needing a bit of extra room?
“And how would it be acceptable to charge someone to take on a buggy who was entitled to free transport?”
Among the other ideas discussed was the introduction of an onward travel ticket, which mums could use if they had to leave the bus to make space for a wheelchair user.
Mrs Burgess said: “The idea of having a ticket to go further is fantastic. We had a situation where a young mum was travelling.
“A wheelchair user required the space and she vacated it, but when she got off she found she didn’t have any change. She was stranded in a strange area and she had to walk with three children to the ATM.”
The group is planning to seek legal advice on a possible challenge under equality legislation.
Lothian Buses has said its current policy is to comply with disability legislation by making room for wheelchair users.
Ian Craig, the firm’s managing director, said: “We are currently engaging with many interest groups as part of an ongoing review of our accessibility policy. We will be assessing all of the feedback from these groups and hope to be in a position to discuss accessibility further in January.”