Wheelchair User Wins Supreme Court Case After He Was Stopped From Boarding A Bus

It's a victory for disabled passengers

Most Popular

Bus drivers may have to do a lot more to accommodate wheelchair users, following a disabled man's victory in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Doug Paulley brought his case forward after he was stopped from boarding a FirstGroup bus from Wetherby to Leeds in 2012 when a mother with a buggy refused to give up her space, the BBC reports.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

After the woman rejected a request from the driver to move or fold away her pushchair, the driver told Paulley he could not board the vehicle. In his appeal, Paulley argued that this was discriminatory to wheelchair users, and that the request from the driver should have been a requirement.

The court did not award any damages to Paulley, but agreed that the bus company had not done enough to protect the rights of disabled passengers. In its ruling, the court said the driver should have done more to put pressure on the non-wheelchair user to leave the space, a decision which has been welcomed by campaigners for disabled access.

Most Popular

"This is hopefully going to make a major difference to disabled people's travel," Paulley told the BBC.

"There's always got to be some judgement and there will always be some exceptional circumstances where somebody can't be expected to move out of the space," he added. "But what this judgement means is the driver has to make their own decision as to whether the person is being unreasonable in refusing to move, and if they are, he or she has to tell them that they are required to move, and if necessary refuse to move the bus until they shift."

While campaigners are aware there's still more to be done to protect rights for the disabled, Paulley's victory is considered to be a substantial step in the right direction.

"It's the Paulley principle," his lawyer Chris Fry told The Guardian. "We now have priority and right of access. We know that parliament is interested in this case. There's a lot more to do."

Bus companies in the UK will now be forced to rethink their policies around disabled access, while considering the needs of other vulnerable passengers, including parents with buggies.