Mums rev up for new fight over pram ban

Mums in Corstorphine are among those fighting the ban
Mums in Corstorphine are among those fighting the ban
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Angry mums are preparing for a fresh campaign against Lothian Buses over its long-standing pram ban.

A previous protest three years ago led to the more “buggy-friendly” buses on the streets but the mums say this has not gone far enough.

The company still outlaws prams which cannot be folded down in case the space is required by a wheelchair user – a policy which the campaigners say results in mums with very young babies being unable to travel.

A Babies on Buses Facebook site now has hundreds of members and the group is planning to seek legal advice on a possible challenge under equality legislation.

The council-owned company today said it was carrying out new research into the accessibility of its buses.

HR worker Caroline Burgess, 30, from Barnton, who was part of the original campaign, said there had once again been reports of mums with very young babies being turned away.

The mother-of-one said: “Newborn babies should lie flat and there are very few buggies that fold in one piece that are suitable from birth.

“Several mums have been in touch with Lothian Buses and they have confirmed they are not letting anyone on board if the buggy does not fold down.

“I just cannot see how this situation can be lawful.

“Previously, pregnancy and maternity have not been part of equality and diversity legislation but now they are, so I think that’s the right route for us to take now.”

At the time of the previous campaign, Lothian Buses was the only firm in Scotland to operate such a policy and it led to a petition to parliament. The firm insisted the measure was necessary to comply with disability laws.

The problem appeared to have been resolved following the introduction of its buggy-friendly services, which have areas for wheelchair users and prams.

Edinburgh West MP Mike Crockart said it was “extremely disappointing” that the issue had emerged again. He urged the company to meet campaigners to “come to some sort of sensible conclusions as to what’s actually allowed and what isn’t”.

Ian Craig, managing director of Lothian Buses, said: “We review all of our passenger concerns and are currently undertaking extensive research into customer thoughts on accessibility of our buses, including a focus on buggy spaces.

“Accessibility and space are a challenge across all forms of public transport but Lothian Buses are proud of being one of the most progressive companies in addressing these challenges.

“We have invested over £100 million on improvements, with a significant percentage of our fleet of 650 buses now benefiting from both a wheelchair space and a buggy space.

“Testament to the success of this development is the results of a recent space allocation survey that revealed that 75 per cent of passengers with a buggy were ‘very satisfied’. We are aiming to make further improvements to the fleet.”