Stagecoach pledge help for wheelchair users after hearing Fife man’s experiences

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A Fife campaigner hopes a meeting with Stagecoach will help wheelchair users who travel by bus.

Lyall Allan, from Buckhaven, relies on public transport to travel, and as a keen music fan, makes journeys all across the country - but his experience of getting on and off Stagecoach buses has been mixed.

He was able to put his suggestions across to the bus company at a meeting organised by David Torrance, MSP for Kirkcaldy.

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Lyall, from Buckhaven, uses a wheelchair after suffering from a stroke almost 10 years. His experiences have now been taken on board by Stagecoach It said it will take on board his suggestions of better regular training for drivers and consideration of bus design as well as bus stop and station infrastructure.

From left: David Frenz, Stagecoach operations director East Coast Scotland, David Torrance MSP, Lee Skinner, operations manager Aberhill Bus Depot. Centre, Lyall Allan.From left: David Frenz, Stagecoach operations director East Coast Scotland, David Torrance MSP, Lee Skinner, operations manager Aberhill Bus Depot. Centre, Lyall Allan.
From left: David Frenz, Stagecoach operations director East Coast Scotland, David Torrance MSP, Lee Skinner, operations manager Aberhill Bus Depot. Centre, Lyall Allan.

Lyall said: “I’m always anxious when I get on a bus as I never know if the driver has any experience operating the wheelchair lift. The local buses are usually fine to board, but the X route buses have to lift me up in my wheelchair, and if a driver doesn’t use the lift regularly they can forget how it all works which leads to issues.

“Stagecoach has told me that the average time to allow a wheelchair user to board an X route bus is around 15 minutes but there have been times where I’ve been suspended in the air on the lift for over two hours! I can tell how efficient a driver is at operating the lift just with the way they look at me when they pull up to the bus stop as they look at my chair rather than me. I can see the frustration in their face.”

He also raised the issue of inadequate bus stops and bus station infrastructure, some of which are not wheelchair user friendly - he described Edinburgh’s main station as the worst - and added: “I’m glad that Stagecoach has taken on board what I have had to say about more thorough training for its drivers. I hope that it will make life not only easier for myself and other wheelchair users, but the bus drivers also.”

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Mr Torrance praised both Lyall and Stagecoach for the level-headed approach to addressing a problem many others in his constituency face.

He said: “The meeting was a resounding success and will make life easier for wheelchair users who travel by bus. Stagecoach has also been very helpful by listening to Lyall and by pledging to make travel for wheelchair users easier and less stressful when using its services.”

David Frenz, operations director for Stagecoach East Scotland said the company would continue to work with Lyall, adding: “His insight has given us food for thought in terms of our staff training and where we can develop this, as well as feeding back to manufactures on vehicle design and local authorities regarding bus stop and station infrastructure.”He added: “I'll be spending some time with Lyall travelling on public transport to gain an understanding of the challenges he can face."