Pushchairs vs wheelchairs: let the battle commence

It wasn’t so long ago that I read a news story about a disabled man who took a bus company to court after a passenger with a pushchair refused to move out of a designated disabled space on the bus.

What a disgrace! I can recall thinking.  I would NEVER be so impudent as to claim a disabled space for my own and then REFUSE TO MOVE.  It’s like Rosa Parks all over again!  What is this world coming to, when we can’t show a bit of consideration for a wheelchair-using bus passenger and fellow human?

Well, that was before I had a child.

Now, it’s wheels at dawn.

To be fair, the bus companies don’t help, given that you have to pay four pounds (FOUR POUNDS, ladies and gentlemen, you do hear me right, FOUR SODDING POUNDS.  Did I mention the bus fare from here to the city centre-a distance of some three miles-is FOUR POUNDS?) for a day ticket and then suffer a Sunday service of one bus per hour.  That, my friends, is hardly conducive to generating warm fuzzy feelings of selflessness and agape towards one’s fellow passengers when it comes to the battle to get the window seat.

So you can imagine the depth of my sigh when I arrived at the bus stop in the driving rain on the way back from swimming on Sunday, Piglet contentedly dozing in the pushchair despite the fact that he was completely exposed to the elements as the rain cover was squashed underneath the swimming bag in the shopping basket, only to find that there were no less than three wheelchairs already there, waiting to board the bus.

The first bus came and went.  There were already two pushchairs aboard, and neither the disabled people in the wheelchairs, nor their assorted carers, appeared to be remotely bothered about asserting their rights and asking people to move, lest they take the bus company to court, so off the bus went.  It was a twenty-five minute wait, in the rain, for the next one, and Piglet was starting to stir.  Do I wait the twenty-five minutes for the next bus, knowing that it, too, could be rammed to the gunwales with pushchairs, and even if not, the wheelchairs were going to have every bus full for the next two hours?  Do I wake up Piglet and attempt to fold the pushchair, even though, fourteen Youtube tutorials later, I’m still not entirely sure how to do it, and anyway I can’t manage Piglet, the pushchair and all our swimming stuff without growing a new pair of extra-long arms like Inspector Gadget?  Or do I cut my losses and get on the wrong bus, in the hope that I will end up somewhere slightly closer to home that I can potentially walk to?

At that moment, along came the Student Bus.

Aha!  I thought, it’s the Student Bus!  The Student Bus goes to the university halls of residence, which are a mere twenty minute walk from my house.  And there is never anyone on it!  Well, apart from the twenty thousand or so university students!  But they don’t have pushchairs.  This is the bus of the young and agile!  Never on this bus will I have to worry about sitting too close to the front and feeling guilt every time someone vaguely oldish looking gets on, for it is a veritable Bus of Youth!  Why, these whippersnappers could all go upstairs should they so choose, and live the life of riley on the top deck.

Wheelchair Number One having already loaded onto a previous bus that I couldn’t catch, Wheelchair Number Two got onto the Student Bus.  There was no one else on it.

I peered into the bus.

“Do you think we could fit on this one?” I asked the driver, thinking he was going to tell me to bugger off and leave the disabled alone to their disabled space, to which they were legally entitled by law, and no there would be no reasonable adjustments for pushchairs, and can’t you put that damn thing down?  That baby’s big enough to walk.

The driver shrugged his shoulders.  He couldn’t care less.

I got on the bus, and off it went.

Once the bus started going, however, I realised that I couldn’t fit the pushchair into the small space that remained next to the wheelchair for love nor money.  I was either going to have to park it in the aisle, looking like a right tit and generally posing a health and safety hazard, or the damn thing was going to have to be folded.

I woke up Piglet and handed him to the young disabled man’s carer to hold for a second while I battled with the pushchair.  It would. Not. Go. Down.  And not only that, but with the carer otherwise engaged and taking his eye off the ball, the wheelchair had done a 90-degree turn, and was in danger of flying free from its moorings and heading straight down the aisle.  Not only had I selfishly attempted to park my Bugaboo, bastion of middle class parenting privilege, basically on the feet of a young severely disabled person, but I had now inadvertently sent his wheelchair flying down the middle of a moving omnibus.  For God’s sake, no one tell Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and that bloke from the One Show who used to play wheelchair basketball about this or they will probably have me killed.  I am an actual MENACE to disabled society.

By the time I managed to make the pushchair sufficiently small to fit into the remaining space next to the wheelchair, we were at the top of the road and the bus was quickly filling up with young students.  Again, I breathed a sigh of relief that they were all sufficiently able-bodied to be able to step over the pile of wheels at the front of the bus and take their seats on the upper deck.

And then……

Wheelchair Number One was back!  The bus ahead had only gone and broken down.

What is the etiquette here? Does one get off the bus and forfeit the one pound sixty-five one has just paid on top of the FOUR SODDING POUNDS because it’s a different bus company?  Or does one duck one’s head and pretend not to have seen the approaching wheelchair?

I will tell you what one does.  One ducks the head and hopes for the best.

It’s dog eat dog out there.

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23 Comments Add yours

  1. Mama says:

    Sounds horrific. Can’t believe how expensive buses are there. You could take a taxi for an hour journey here for that price. Thanks for linking up to #fartglitter

    1. Min says:

      I need to move to Thailand!

  2. whineorwine says:

    Oh god I have had endless dramas with buses and buggies! Literally SO STRESSFUL!!! The buses always break down…oh god remember trying to fold up my buggy and falling over with diet coke going everywhere!! Stresss with kids!! Hope u got your feet up that night and had a wine xxx #bestandworst

    1. Min says:

      I certainly did! Haha! x

  3. whineorwine says:

    Never easy with kids!!! Buggys, buses, kids = usual disaster for me xx

  4. Sarah Howe says:

    Jeez lovely what a nightmare! I must have to be dog eat dog! You would never go anywhere! I cannot believe how expensive buses are now! I used to get them all the time but not since having my daughter…the train can be fun but at least more space! Good luck next time! Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst and see you soon x

    1. Min says:

      I know, it’s ridiculous, and they keep on getting more expensive.

  5. MMT says:

    I’m trying to think of a witty / understanding / novel comment… all I can think of is a vague reference to a nursery rhyme…The wheels on the bus…and errr….

    I think I need to call it a day on reading all these posts ha ha!

    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub – see you in the morning! 😉

    1. Min says:

      It must be tiring. Seems like more people are linking up every week! Well excited about my guest post 🙂 xx

  6. Talya says:

    Getting on a bus with a buggy when it is busy sucks! I have actually get off before to let a wheelchair user on because HOW CAN YOU EVEN FOLD UP A BUGGY when it’s so busy. Don’t be daft you can’t. I try to get the train instead if poss. Much less stressful. Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely x

    1. Min says:

      This is true…although I have a fair few horror stories about catching trains as well!

  7. Oh I can definitely sympathise – I don’t have my own car so I’ve done my fair share of bus journeys with a buggy. Theres never enough bloody room is there! I find the hardest bit is the reversing out the space and getting off the bus, especially if theres other buggies or wheelchairs. We recently got on a busy bus and it was so full that people were queuing in the aisle right up to the front – when I tried to get off, there was one man who just wouldn’t move!! I’m not ashamed to admit it but in the end I just went over his feet!! #bestandworst

    1. Min says:

      Haha! It is a nightmare isn’t it? When the bus is busy is the absolute worst.

  8. Robyn says:

    I just don’t go anywhere I can’t walk or get a lift to these days! Something about trying to wrangle a stroller onto a bus (even one with the driver + one passenger) turns me into a clumsy flapping mother hen. Once I got the capsule on, the stroller on, my shopping bags on then went to pay and realised I was on the WRONG bus – mortified!

    1. Min says:

      Oh no! Actually today I had a much better experience. There were already two pushchairs on the bus and the bus driver got out and helped me fold my pushchair so I could get on. I was speechless!

  9. I HATED getting on the bus with the pram. So much so I used to walk everywhere instead. And I had an oyster card (London bus) so it really wasn’t too bad £1.35. It got to the stage where I’d be like, oh its only 4 miles……..


    I ate a lot of cake to compensate for the walking!

    1. Min says:

      I know that feeling! Now that I can no longer wear heels on a regular basis due to having to chase a toddler around, I quite often feel like I may as well walk.

  10. I got a bus once when E was a small baby and my husband needed the car. It left me in tears. Screw the bus. #chucklemums

    1. Min says:

      Fran, if you don’t take the bus you haven’t lived. Gives me all my best posts!

  11. Beta Mummy says:

    Oh no for having to wake Piglet up! I’ve never had to fold the pushchair, but I have gotten off the bus once or twice to make space for a wheelchair. However, buses are actually pretty good where I live, and they’re so regular that it’s not too big a deal.
    You were very unlucky to encounter two wheelchairs on one bus!

    1. Min says:

      Haha, tell me about it. It was a wheelchair day out. There was a great big queue of them. I’ve just returned from an action packed day on public transport again today, having had the audacity to leave the house on a Sunday. Oh to be back in London where there was at least no shortage of buses on Sundays!

  12. Ali says:

    Isn’t this one of the reasons baby carriers are so useful? I don’t drive either so I always use a carrier. Wheelchair users clearly have to have priority, they have no other option.

    (Have just discovered your blog and love it)

    1. Min says:

      Thank you! Yes, I found mine useful-but only until about 6 months by which time the child decided he wasn’t so keen on sitting in it and I had to be both standing and walking around for him to be happy in it! Now Piglet is 3 we can go out without the pushchair, but I still take it when we’re going to be walking longer distances. However, now he is mobile it’s easier to get him out and fold the thing up so not really a problem anymore, thank goodness.

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