Nearly 2,500 people have signed a petition calling on Lothian Buses to create more space for prams and wheelchair users on their new fleet of vehicles.
At the time of writing, 2,443 people have signed the petition entitled Parents Need to Use Lothian Buses Too.
Last month, Lothian Buses launched its new 100-seater vehicles on two popular services in Edinburgh.
Operating on the service 11 Ocean Terminal-Hyvots Bank and service 16 Silverknowes-Colinton, the bus company said the new vehicles have been designed to improve passenger experience.
These popular cross city routes recorded a combined total of more than 10 million customer journeys in 2018.
But the new buses have received criticism for not providing enough space for both parents with prams and wheelchair users.
The petition, started by SPS Maternity, says the new vehicles have “moved backwards in terms of access and inclusion.”
It states: “Until now many of the operator’s buses in Edinburgh have been child-friendly – with both a dedicated wheelchair space and an additional pram/buggy space provided.
“However, the new fleet has only one available space for either a wheelchair or (if unoccupied) a pram/buggy or other users, for example, people using walking aids or accompanied by guide dogs.”
The petition goes on to claim the situation shows a “lack of commitment” to ensuring access for all members of the community, including parents or carers with children.
It highlights that parents and carers need to carry out important daily activities like going to the GP, support groups, nursery and work.
The petition adds: “If these single spaces are full, these passengers must either wait for another bus, or fold up their pram and carry their child on board.”
One example included is that a parent travelling to work with two children - one of which is in a pram - may potentially have to juggle holding onto a changing bag, work bad, a toddler and a baby while trying to fold up a pram.
The petition also states that much of the new fleet has very little storage space for folded up buggies, adding: “This lack of access is particularly important given many of the routes used by these new buses are heavily trafficked, making it more likely that passengers will need access to both wheelchair and pram spots.
“Neither disabled passengers nor parents/carers benefit from a reduction in accessible bus space.”
The petition is calling on Lothian Buses to do the following;
Commit to a review of its conditions of carriage with regards to pram space, and provide a commitment to a designated pram/buggy space in addition to a dedicated wheelchair space on all buses in the fleet;
Modify the 100-seat buses with only one wheelchair/pram space to add another bay area that can be used for prams/buggies (for example, by removing some existing seats).
Modify the bus tracking system and app with clear information about whether buses are pram/buggy-friendly, and (if possible) whether the accessible spaces are occupied.
Establish a parent/carer service user consultation group or experience forum that should be included in discussions on future design and service changes.
Lothian Buses has been contacted for a response to the petition.
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