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Pressure on Xplore Dundee buses to reverse mobility scooter ban

More passengers are speaking out as city politicians call for a rethink.

Xplore is under pressure after banning mobility scooters. Image: Kris Miller.

Xplore Dundee bosses are facing demands to undo their controversial decision to ban electric mobility scooters as more users condemn “discrimination”.

Senior SNP figures in the city wrote to the bus operator urging a U-turn after The Courier reported claims disabled passengers are being unfairly treated.

Locals with mobility problems say they had been able to take their scooters onto Dundee buses for years before the new policy came into place.

On Sunday, disabled 65-year-old Doreen Bruce, from Downfield, told us she has become “isolated” due to the new rules.

Dundee woman Doreen Bruce needs a mobility scooter to get around. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

Now a second woman affected has spoken out against Xplore’s policy as she claimed the bus firm was “discriminating” against mobility scooter users.

Elizabeth Ather, also 65, from Linlathen, said: “My mental health is going downhill because I’m stuck in the house 24/7.

“I’d say to Xplore: you’re discriminating against us. We are just as disabled as anybody in a wheelchair.”

The bus firm has said the ban is due to the “size and manoeuvrability” of scooters, as well as “limited space” being available.

Under their new policy, passengers can only bring their mobility scooter onto the bus if it can be folded away.

Wheelchairs and prams are still permitted.

But Dundee local John McInnes, 74, claims he’s often still not allowed onto Xplore buses even though he can fold away his electric scooter.

The pensioner told us: “It’s a bit discriminatory. It feels like we’ve been singled out.

“My scooter cost me around £1,600, to give me more mobility. I feel like I’ve wasted that money.”

Dundee SNP Councillor Nadia El-Nakla.

Dundee SNP Councillor Nadia El-Nakla, who is her party’s equalities spokesperson, branded the policy “regressive”.

In a letter to the company, she wrote: “I am deeply concerned regarding Xplore’s new policy prohibiting electric mobility scooters.

“In 2023, I would expect that public transport prioritises accessibility, not withdraw a vital service that impacts those with disabilities and older people the most.

“It is extremely disappointing, and I would hope that a reread of the equalities act may encourage a change in this policy.”

Veteran Dundee SNP MP Stewart Hosie said: “I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have expressed concern and dismay.

Dundee SNP MP Stewart Hosie. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson.

“I very much hope and expect Xplore will reverse this and return to the policy in place previously.”

Mr Hosie is also pushing the UK Government to overhaul existing laws which let bus operators decide themselves if mobility scooters should be allowed on.

First Bus and Stagecoach both permit scooters on suitable coaches.

To bring on the electric vehicles, passengers using them must prove they can get onto the bus and park it safely.

Xplore’s parent bus company, McGill’s, also does not allow mobility scooters unless they can be folded away.

Lothian Buses adopt the same approach.

Ban ‘not unique’

A spokesperson for Xplore said: “This ban on mobility scooter is not unique.

“Our parent company has had this policy for five years and when we take over a company as we did in Xplore’s case we implement the policy.

“There is no common certification standard for mobility scooters, and they are unsuitable for use inside a moving vehicle.

“Furthermore, the wheelchair space on a bus is exactly that, a wheelchair space and it is a protected space for wheelchairs.”

The spokesperson added: “Foldable scooters are allowed on so long as they are folded.

“It would be a rare occasion that the bus is so busy that there would be no room on board and the driver would refuse access.”

‘The law needs to change’

Scooter user Elizabeth said she has not been able to acquire a new permit to travel with any other bus companies since Xplore no longer hands them out locally.

She agrees the rules must be changed by Westminster to ensure bus operators are forced to let her on.

Elizabeth said: “The law needs to change at the top.

“They gave the travel companies the choice to join the group or not. That’s not right.”

North East Tory MSP Maurice Golden said: “An urgent rethink is required on this new policy.

“It shouldn’t take governments to step in to force bus companies to do the right thing.”

Dundee Labour councillor Pete Shears. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson.

Dundee Labour Councillor Pete Shears said: “It’s a disgraceful hit to Dundee residents with mobility issues who rely on public transport.

“It’s just a further example of Xplore’s disdain for the communities they’re meant to be serving.”

A UK Government department for transport spokesperson said: “We want all forms of transport to be as accessible as possible, which is why we recently launched a call for evidence on the rules around buses and coaches.”