NEW public buses without a ramp
Can anybody tell me the date after which public buses purchased after (that date) must have a ramp, and therefore be wheelchair accessible?
I walk, but have to use a powered wheelchair when outside of bungalow as my balance is poor and my startle reaction so "strong" that the sound of a leaf falling as made me fall flat to the floor once, which I find some people can't understand - different issue I know.
Anyway, I got the bus yesterday from the bus depot at the end of my road in Torpoint, into Plymouth city centre via the Torpoint ferry. I had a really nice day, eat at my favourite buffet place where the staff know me, give me the same table every time, can't do enough etc, went to a sale, and got a new swimming costume, and even some "non granny grump looking" elasticated trousers - I was really pleased.
As my support worker and I crossed Royal Parade to catch the bus, it was already in, but despite a dash, we just missed it. I didn't mind, nobody's fault, but when the next 81 bus came, it was one of their new single deckers which don't have a ramp. I have had heated debates with First before about these buses. As a result, the blue wheelchair sign was removed from them...
I couldn't get on, the driver was rude and unhelpful, and as I don't back down, he started on a power trip, I then had to wait ages and finally had to get a bus that terminates at the ferry, get up the slope in to the foot passenger lounge and get the mile home in my wheelchair after disembarking. What made this difficult was that my support worker was finishing work to catch her bus back to Plymouth at 17:45, so it meant rushing with a piece of toast so I could take my Baclofen, so it made me absolutely furious.
When I lived in Leamington Spa, some of the new low floor buses there running between Leamington and Cubbington, and Leamington and Warwick were identical to the ones here, but each one was equipped with the same Porta Ramps used to help wheelchair users on/off trains. I know that they are exactly the same ones. They fold in half, and would be stowed away behind the bus drivers seat. I have mentioned this several times at the depot here, only to be told that they don't have them down here - I KNOW THAT...
My question is, after what date does a new bus have to be wheelchair accessible? These buses have a floor lowering mechanism, and a dedicated signed space for a wheelchair user, but unless you are a manual wheelchair user with very powerful arms, able to tip yourself back as I have seen people do, you can't get on. The "funny" thing was that the driver told me "it is your carer's job to get you on" after he said that he would not lift my front wheels up as he didn't want to risk hurting his back!
I use a front wheel drive powered wheelchair and know it isn't exactly light in weight, and I would never expect to board on old bus with steps (i have done so twice when using a manual wheelchair being pushed), but when new buses are purchased and are NOT wheelchair accessible, I get VERY angry and wound up, and feel that First should pay for cab to take me to the bus stop that I want to go to as I really thought that new buses are purchased had to be wheelchair accessible.
I'm going to paste this into an e-mail to my MP.