Spina bifida sufferer and wheelchair user Jamie left humiliated and disgusted by treatment as Hitchin bus driver refuses to let him board
- Credit: Archant
A bus company has mounted an investigation after a complaint that a driver refused to allow a Hitchin man suffering from spina bifida man on to his bus – because he was in a wheelchair.
Jamie Wildman, 33, tried to board the number 97 bus from Hermitage Road on his way to an appointment in Letchworth when the Arriva bus driver turned him away.
Mr Wildman, of St John’s Road in Hitchin, said: “As a wheelchair user not only do I feel humiliated, I also feel disgusted and angry something like this can happen in 2015.
“This particular bus has not been fitted with equipment to lower the step, but since a number of buses are the same I am quite mobile and adept at mounting a bus without assistance.
“However, the driver in this case said to me in a blunt, quite harsh tone: ‘You’re not getting on. This bus is not wheelchair accessible’.
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“I was shocked and told him I’d boarded many buses which do not lower.
“But he repeated it again to me, in a voice which said to me: ‘Tough luck’.
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“I couldn’t believe it. His discourteous reply made all the other people on the bus look at me as if I had done something wrong.
“I’m quite a shy person, but I just felt humiliated by him. Looking back on it I also feel very angry at what happened.
“He offered no apology nor reason, delivering his order in a disdainful manner.
“I would expect more to be done to facilitate a normal life for those of us who live with a disability we did not choose to have and I feel very hurt, upset and angry.”
Jamie’s mother Pauline Wildman added: “I am disgusted by this particular driver’s attitude towards my son. It hasn’t been helped by the fact we sent two letters to them asking for an apology – but haven’t had a single word back.”
Tom Scott, who works for spina bifida charity Shine, said: “We’re extremely disappointed to hear about this.
“When a bus driver denies someone access to their primary means of transport they aren’t just blocking the person’s journey for the day, they are preventing their progress into many other areas of life.
“We’d like Arriva to assure us this matter is being investigated thoroughly, and any person deemed to have behaved in an inappropriate manner should be disciplined accordingly.”
A spokesman for Arriva said: “We are currently investigating and will reply to Mr Wildman. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”