Bus company says sorry to woman in wheelchair mix-up

18/5/12   SB''Jean Spiers of Gosport who has MS has had problems getting permission to use her wheelchair on the new Eclipse bus service, pictured at the Gosport Bus Station''Picture: Paul Jacobs (121739-1)

18/5/12 SB''Jean Spiers of Gosport who has MS has had problems getting permission to use her wheelchair on the new Eclipse bus service, pictured at the Gosport Bus Station''Picture: Paul Jacobs (121739-1)

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A BUS company has apologised to a disabled woman who was told she could not take her wheelchair on without a permit.

Jean Spiers, 58, has multiple sclerosis and uses an electric wheelchair to get around.

She was told by staff at the First bus company new regulations meant she needed to be assessed by a member of staff and given a permit to bring her wheelchair on board.

But Ms Spiers was left waiting for weeks to meet a member of staff.

First looked into Ms Spiers’ case after being contacted by The News and found she does not need a permit and can travel freely.

Now the company has apologised to the 58-year-old for the mix-up.

Ms Spiers, of South Street in Gosport, said: ‘It made me quite upset. I have been using buses for about 15 years with no problem.

‘One of the drivers said I would need a permit and then another member of staff I spoke to.

‘I suddenly thought I wouldn’t be able to do anything or go anywhere if I couldn’t get on the buses.

‘I have to go to the dentist and things at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital and I have had to use taxis which is expensive.

‘I thought if I could get on the bus it would be a lot better.’

Under new guidance from the Department for Transport, people who use mobility scooters need to have it assessed before being allowed to board.

But wheelchair users do not, providing their wheelchair is a normal size and is not heavier than the bus ramp can handle.

Karen Baxter, a spokeswoman for First Group, said: ‘Ms Spiers, who uses a normal electric wheelchair, does not need an assessment before she travels on our buses.

‘The situation has been born out of some confusion on, we believe, all sides.

‘But we accept we have not handled this well and we are very sorry for the inconvenience Ms Spiers has faced, both through cancelled appointments and not being able to use our services.

‘We will be personally apologising to her in the coming days.’

Ms Spiers added: ‘I hope anyone else who might have the same problem will know what to do now.

‘And I have to say all the bus drivers and people I have dealt with have been very pleasant.’

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