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Bus refuses to lower wheelchair ramp for disabled student

Sarah Richards
Sarah Richards Image credit:

A student with a life-changing disability said she was left ‘humiliated’ after a council bus driver refused to lower his ramp for her wheelchair because he was running late.

Sarah Richards from Brisbane has osteogenesis imperfecta, despite using a chair since the age of two she has manged to use public transport to attend lectures at the University of Queensland for the past three years without too much trouble.

But now and again she has faced problems with various drivers unsympathetic towards her disability.

Richards was about to board the bus at the Eight Mile Plains stop but needed the ramp to be lowered for her wheelchair.

But the driver became annoyed when she asked for the help, he told her she needed to wait for the next service because he was already ‘running late’ and did not have time to reverse.

'I tried to get his attention, and let him know I needed this bus. But he basically indicated that he wouldn't let me on,' Ms Richards told Mail Online.

'He was still allowing people to board through the back door, but wasn't allowing me to get on.'

The driver finally gave in and reluctantly manoeuvred the bus round a loop so he could lower the ramp.

‘After basically begging him, he said he would go back and turn around,' Richards said. 

'He was rolling his eyes and sighing, it was evident that he was very annoyed.'

Once on board she continued to have problems with the impatient driver.

'When I finally got in, he scolded me and said I should have been at the stop earlier,' she said.

'I said well next time you should park better.

'After I boarded, he then yelled at everyone 'hurry up, we are going to be late now'.

 'It was humiliating. It wasn't fair that he was blaming me.'

'People who do not need to use wheelchairs wouldn't be spoken to like that and they wouldn't have to ask to be let on.'

It is not the first time Richards has had an upsetting experience on the Translink bus service, in the past the student experienced a similar issue.

'The previous time this happened was about a month ago and it was the same problem,' she said. 

'The driver parked too far forward and could not let down the ramp.'

'He told me that I'd need to wait and get the next one. I argued with him and he finally let me on.

'He rolled his eyes at me and asked the other bus drivers to watch while he reversed.'

Richards added: 'It is complete discrimination in my eyes.

'I called Translink and they told me I should have been at the stop earlier. I did receive an apology, but they also told me I should be there earlier.'

'It is very frustrating. If this has happened to me, I'm sure it has happened to others.'

'I hope that Translink might do better in educating their drivers.'

Sarah Richards said she wants bus drivers to have a better awareness of the needs for disabled passengers.