A transport company has been forced to pay compensation to a disabled woman after its drivers repeatedly breached a legal agreement aimed at protecting the rights of wheelchair-users to use its buses.
Nina Grant (pictured), from north London, was repeatedly left stranded at bus stops when Arriva drivers either failed to open their doors or refused to ask parents with buggies to move from the wheelchair space.
On one occasion she waved the bus down, but once passengers had disembarked the bus pulled away before she could board.
On another occasion, the bus drove past her, then pulled up further along the road. When she caught up with the bus, the driver told her she would not be able to board and pulled away, leaving her stranded.
In February last year, another driver told her she could not board the bus because there were two buggies on board.
When Grant told the driver she should still be allowed to board, one of the parents offered to make space for her, preventing her from being stranded again.
In a letter from her solicitors, Arriva was told she had “repeatedly been upset and humiliated” by its actions and was “treated with such contempt that she only travels when it is absolutely necessary to avoid further confrontation.
“Her anxiety surrounding travel is at an all time high and she is disappointed that seemingly no improvements have been made to avoid incidences such as those mentioned above.”
The letter told Arriva that it had discriminated against her under the Equality Act.
Arriva originally reached a settlement with Grant three years ago, after she was repeatedly left on the pavement by drivers who made no attempt to ask parents to move their buggies so she could board the bus and use the wheelchair space.
This was a breach of principles established in a high-profile legal action taken against another bus company, First Group, by Doug Paulley, which resulted in a Supreme Court victory in January 2017.
That case established that bus companies operating a “first come first served” policy on the use of their wheelchair spaces were acting unlawfully.
As a result of Grant’s original legal action, Arriva made a legally-binding pledge in 2020 to improve accessibility and ensure “comprehensive” disability equality training for all new drivers and refresher training for existing drivers, with all drivers having to reach a basic level of competency before being allowed to drive a bus.
At the end of each shift, every driver had to file a record of each occasion when they refused access to a wheelchair-user.
But the discrimination continued, and Grant was forced to launch another legal action against Arriva after she continued to be left at the side of the road when trying to use its buses.
With the help of solicitor Carrie Clewes, she has now reached a settlement with the company.
Although the terms of the settlement must remain confidential, she is likely to have received thousands of pounds in compensation.
A spokesperson for Arriva London said: “Ensuring that bus services are accessible to passengers with disabilities and those using wheelchairs is a responsibility that Arriva takes seriously.
“Arriva implements detailed training procedures, in line with the standards applicable to London services, and compliance is closely monitored.
“We reiterate our sincere apologies to Ms Grant on account of her experience, and we are cooperating with Ms Grant to ensure opportunities for learning and best practice with a view to achieving continuous improvement.”
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