Bus passengers travelling with a buggy or pram are being asked to respect the needs of wheelchair users in a new Transport for London publicity campaign.
The priority wheelchair space on London Buses is designed to ensure wheelchair users can safely travel but users sometimes find the space occupied by buggies and standing passengers who refuse to move.
Although all passengers are permitted to use the space, wheelchair users have priority and other passengers are expected to vacate the space when needed.
The new campaign aims to reinforce these rules which will be backed up by tougher enforcement action by drivers who will use an automated iBus message and, if necessary, the bus PA system to request passengers comply.
In some circumstances buggy users will be asked to fold their buggies to make space for passengers with wheelchairs.
TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, Leon Daniels, said: “The entire London bus network is wheelchair accessible and there should be no reason for a wheelchair user being unable to use a bus. However wheelchair users tell us that they are sometimes refused entry to our buses because the space is already occupied and other passengers will not move.
“We are asking, through this campaign, for passengers to show consideration to their fellow travellers. We are not saying other passengers can’t use the space at all, just that if a wheelchair user does require access during their journey they must be given priority. Wheelchairs must be positioned correctly in the priority area to travel safely.”
The publicity campaign will include new signage on buses and posters displayed on buses and at bus shelters.
The new campaign has been backed by transport campaigners.
Faryal Velmi, Director of Transport for All, said: “We warmly welcome this publicity drive on London’s buses to highlight the fact that wheelchair users should have priority over buggies.
“The right to ride on buses has been an issue disabled people have campaigned for many years and this great initiative will help to make sure that wheelchair users have access to our space whenever we need it.”
Sam Mauger, Chief Executive at Age UK, said the body was “delighted with this new initiative”.
David Leibling, Acting Chair of passenger watchdog London TravelWatch added: “We know mums and dads value being able to use the wheelchair space on a bus for buggies and it is great to see so many doing so. However, the priority has to be wheelchair users so we are happy to support TfL’s campaign to give these users priority.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member and Chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee, said: “I have every respect for parents struggling with a buggy and young child while travelling on a bus, but the bottom line is that there is never any excuse for a wheelchair user having their priority space being denied to them.
“This TfL campaign is incredibly welcome. It will hopefully put an end to the confusion that frequently exists on this issue. Future bus designs need to look at more space for both wheelchair users and buggies”