Right to Ride – a victory for Disabled people in the Supreme Court
Yesterday the Supreme Court delivered its judgement in the case of FirstGroup Plc v Paulley. The case is about how far bus drivers should go to enforce a right of wheelchair users to have a priority use of a wheelchair space.
The Supreme Court delivered its judgement in the case of FirstGroup Plc v Paulley. The case is about how far bus drivers should go to enforce a right of wheelchair users to have a priority use of a wheelchair space.
The case was brought by a Disabled campaigner Doug Paulley, who was unable to board a bus, because a space for wheelchair users was occupied by a woman with a buggy who refused to vacate a wheelchair space even when asked by a driver. Doug Paulley argued that the Firstbus policy, which only required its drivers to ask non-wheelchair users to move away from a wheelchair space and did not provide for any further action, did not go far enough to ensure Disabled people are not discriminated against.
The Supreme Court’s judgement said that the policy of only requesting without further action is discriminatory. The drivers will now have to ask other passengers to vacate the wheelchair space, if they refuse, the driver has to assess if a passenger has a good reason to stay in wheelchair space. If this is not the case, the driver has to make it clear that passengers are required to vacate this space and if necessary refuse to drive on for a few minutes to compel other passengers to move, so that a wheelchair user could get on the bus.
The judgement did not go as far as some campaigners would have wanted, as the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the passengers who unreasonably refuse to vacate a wheelchair space should be asked to leave the bus. However this decision is a significant step toward equal access to buses for wheelchair users. The Supreme Court reversed the previous decision of the Court of Appeal which said that doing more than asking other passengers to move away from a wheelchair space would be a step too far. Now the drivers will have to take further action to make sure wheelchair users have a priority over a wheelchair space and hopefully this will mean that many more wheelchair users will be able to get on the bus.
You can read the full judgement here https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2015-0025-judgment.pdf
Transport for All analysis of the implications of this judgement: http://www.transportforall.org.uk/news/right-to-ride-victory-thank-you-doug-paulley-
Doug Paulley’s blog about this judgement: https://www.kingqueen.org.uk/we-won-the-case-against-firstbus/