Lothian Bus bosses face public grilling over ‘buggy versus wheelchair’ row
BUS chiefs are to be carpeted by council chiefs amid an ongoing a row over space for buggies and wheelchairs on Lothian’s new 100-seater fleet.
Complainers claim the 42 eco-friendly buses have only a single space for either a buggy or wheelchair.
The company insists the area is large enough to accommodate both and insisted it welcomed speaking to councillors.
So far, 3,700 people have signed a protest petition and two separate motions will be tabled at the transport and environment committee on Thursday as members attempt to reach a solution.
Green councillor Melanie Main wants transport convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, to invite Lothian Buses’ chief executive Richard Hall and senior staff to explain the issues.
The move comes after Labour Cllr Scott Arthur measured dozens of buggies in Mothercare - and found none were small enough for the allotted space.
Cllr Main said: “It’s essential that the city’s buses are accessible to all, including disabled people and parents or carers of young children.
“To have a single space shared by both wheelchair users and those with baby buggies is creating conflict between users and is simply not accessible.
“Lothian buses should be moving forwards on accessibility, not backwards, and I’m confident they will agree to firm action to address these problems.”
A separate motion by Cllr Arthur calls on Lothian Buses to answer questions on what consultation took place with passengers before the new Alexander Dennis Enviro400 XLB vehicles were introduced - and also calls on Mr Hall to hold an open meeting with angry passengers, parents, senior citizens and disability support groups.
Cllr Arthur said: “I view my motion as a test for the board of Lothian Buses.
“I am simply asking them to listen to the views of parents and people with mobility problems, and show that they are ready to deliver the inclusive public transport system our capital needs if it is to grow sustainably.”
Cllr Macinnes last week voiced concern about “serious issues” with the new buses and is adamant that public safety is paramount.
She said: I have already been talking to Lothian Buses about these important issues, and encouraging them to look again at how to resolve them to ensure equal access and safety for passengers and other members of the public.”
Alan Black, Lothian’s head of service delivery, said: “The introduction of our new buses has been met with positive views from the majority of our customers who are travelling on them as part of the 2 million customer journeys we deliver each week.
“However, we recognise the importance of all the feedback we receive and we are happy to interact with the committee on the measures we are taking to ensure safety, comfort and accessibility across our mixed and varied fleet of almost 1,000 buses.”