Disabled man’s bus woe

Derek Marcroft at the bus stop in Marsh Green
Derek Marcroft at the bus stop in Marsh Green
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A DISABLED man says he struggles to get on a bus, despite timetables claiming there is wheelchair access.

When Derek Marcroft suffered a stroke in 2008, it changed his life forever.

It left him paralysed from the waist down and he now uses an electric wheelchair, powered by two large batteries.

But he claims that since First Bus replaced South Lancs Travel’s 664 and 674 services from Marsh Green to Wigan, with its own 621 and 628 routes, he has been unable to get on the buses as there is no lowered floor access or ramps.

Derek, of Anson Place, Marsh Green, said: “I have trouble getting from my house to Wigan as they do not have disabled access.

“I find I am at the bus stop, watching 11 buses pass, as none of them have ramps.

“But at night-time they swap the buses over and they have ramps on, but it is during the day that I need to get out for hospital appointments.

“Bus drivers can’t help me as my chair is too heavy with the two big batteries. I have a manual chair, but I would get too tired using my arms all the time.

“I feel like I can’t get out and I am stuck in my house all the time.

“I just want the bus company to allow me to get on the buses so I can travel about. The timetable leaflet has a wheelchair symbol, so why don’t they have the disabled ramps or lowered-floor access?

“I have a free bus pass, but I can’t use it.

“If I want to get into Wigan I have to get a taxi, but that costs money. I can’t use Ring and Ride as they have problems tying up my electric chair.”

A spokesman for First said that the vast majority of its buses on that route are low floor, but on occasions in the past few weeks there have been some step entrance buses, which require the wheelchair user to ask the driver to lower the manual ramp.

He said: “We believe the service meets the needs of all our customers.

“The buses that regularly operate on this service are easy access, low floor vehicles that are suitable for wheelchair users to get on and off the buses easily.

“Very occasionally we have to put an older, step entrance vehicle onto this route. These buses are not low floor but are fitted with manual ramps that can be operated by the bus driver to ensure the wheelchair user can gain access on and off the bus.

“We are currently upgrading all our vehicles to ensure that they are fully complaint with the Disability Discrimination Act for 2016.”