Complaint about the 212 bus route in Walthamstow

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 15 June 2004

Below is a complaint I have made today to First Group, who operate the franchise for the 212 bus route in Chingford and Walthamstow.

I would like to complain about an incident that took place involving one of your drivers on the 212 route this morning, Tuesday June 15th.

The incident happened at the bus stop at the foot of Church Hill in Walthamstow, just after the bus turns right into Church Hill from Shernhall Street.

Your driver pulled up to the bus stop, and opened the rear set of doors, allowing two schoolchildren to alight. There were three people waiting at the bus stop. Despite the fact that this is the only route that serves this stop, and that the three individuals were queuing at the front doors of the bus, your driver chose not to open the doors, and drove off without allowing them to board.

I counted the number of people on the bus very carefully. I believe that the model of bus you use on the 212 route allows for 28 seated and 28 standing passengers, or if there is a wheelchair on board, 28 seated and 24 standing passengers - I will check again tomorrow. At the time of the incident there were 16 standing passengers on the bus, 12 below the safety limit. In addition there was at least one empty seat - the one by the rear doors that faces in towards the aisle.

What made me angry, and has caused me to write to you, is that the first person in the queue waiting to board the bus was a regular passenger on the route who I recognised. This passenger has a physical disability which impairs their motor skills, and I believe they may also have learning difficulties. I was disgusted to see them left at the side of the road when there was clearly room for them within the operational safety limits of the bus.

At the next stop, your driver again opened the rear doors and allowed another two schoolchildren to alight, but this time he did open the front doors, to allow four people to board. At this point he clearly felt there was room for four additional passengers on the bus.

I can therefore come to no other conclusion than that your driver did not allow the passenger at the head of the queue to board at the previous stop because of their disability. I was disgusted.

To assist you in identifying the driver involved in what I believe to be a discrimintory incident I have noted and taken photographs of the number on the rear of the bus - DML41723 - and the registration number of the vehicle - W7233ULL. According to the timestamp on the pictures I alighted from the bus at Walthamstow Central station at 8:54am.

I trust that you will investigate this incident.

I have published this letter on my website, and would like to state my intention of publishing any other correspondence between us unless you object.

Yours sincerely,
Martin Belam

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