Edinburgh councillor’s Mothercare research shows ‘no buggy small enough’ to fit Lothian super buses

THE row over a lack of space for buggies on Edinburgh’s new 100-seater buses took off again today after a councillor produced his own evidence to rubbish Lothian Buses’ claims that reserved bays were big enough for both a wheelchair and a buggy.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 6:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 7:04 pm
Ailsa McKinley and baby Anna, aged five months. Pic: Callum Bennetts.

Labour’s Scott Arthur said the company told him even when a wheelchair was using the designated area on the new double-door double deckers, there was still 397mm available for a pushchair.

But after measuring dozens of buggies on sale in Mothercare he said none of them were small enough to fit the space.

The Evening News revealed on Tuesday how Lothian Buses is facing a growing protest over lack of access for buggies on its new 100-seater Alexander Dennis Enviro400 XLB buses operating on the 11 and 16 routes. Parents complain there is only one space for either a wheelchair or a buggy.

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And there were accounts of parents being left at the roadside because there was no room or having to push buggies five miles home because the space was already occupied.

Cllr Arthur said Lothian Buses told him the regulations required a minimum of 1300mm dedicated wheelchair space. The company claimed: “The 100 seat buses have a dedicated wheelchair space which is 397mm larger than the legally required minimum and is designed so that both wheelchairs and buggy users can co-exist in a shared space.”

Cllr Arthur said: “This got me wondering just how wide a buggy is - so I went Mothercare.

“I found they had a huge range of buggies and prams to choose from. However, of the 40 buggies I measured none were narrower than 397mm. They were not even anywhere near that.

“The smallest I found was the Mothercare Jive Stroller with “hearts” design. A really helpful staff member confirmed that at just £34 is was one of their most popular models. However, even it is 450mm wide – far too big for the space allocated by Lothian Buses.”

Cllr Arthur, who represents Colinton/Fairmilehead, also said a board member he had been dealing with on the buggy issue had declined to meet parents who wanted to demonstrate the problems they faced.

He was told the director concerned had a full diary for the whole of May and would come back to him “when her diary clears”.

Cllr Scott said: “The super bus serves two routes in my ward, so there is a lot of local concern about their accessibility to older people and those with children still in buggies.

“I’m disappointed my request for a board member to meet parents has been declined. This would have been a chance for them to discuss and demonstrate the accessibility problems they face. To be honest, I expected better customer relations from the UK’s best bus company.”

Lothian Buses declined to comment on Cllr Arthur’s findings about the size of buggies or the failure to meet parents.

A spokeswoman said: “Lothian is a commercial business that delivers over two million customer journeys every week.”

And she repeated a previous statement saying they operated a mixed fleet of almost 1000 buses and were committed to offering wider accessibility for all customers.