Minister: Wheelchair Access On Buses

December 9, 2011

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [Dec.9], Minister of Transport Derrick Burgess said in May 2011 a memo was disseminated to all bus operators, supervisors and managers which stated that all operators must allow passengers with collapsible wheelchairs access on the bus.

The statement today follows after an incident earlier this month in which Jeannette Carey, an American visitor, was asked to get off the bus.

Mrs. Carey said, “I was told to get off a bus because I was in a wheelchair. I was able to walk up onto the bus and my husband folded my wheelchair. But as I sat in the first seat, the bus driver told me to get off the bus. He does not take people in wheelchairs.

Minister Burgess said, “The Department of Public Transportation is crafting a policy document that supports the Wheelchair Access memo. It will also include the parameters for allowing baby carriages.”

“The aforementioned policy will be disseminated to all staff and will be included in the Bus Operators’ Handbook. Signage will be erected at the Central Bus Terminal, the Dockyard Ground Transportation Area and in bus shelters across the island.”

“This will foster clarity for passengers, existing staff members and will go a long way to ensuring that new operators know and adhere to the policy.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Public Transportation has identified the necessity of serving passengers who need wheelchair assistance and solidified this position on 18th May, 2011 when a memo was disseminated to all Bus Operators, Supervisors and Managers.

The memo clearly gives a step by step process, including script, for handling passengers with wheelchairs.

Mr. Speaker, this memo was debated in various forums, one being in a roundtable discussion that is open to all employees of the Department.

Again, it was clearly communicated that all Operators must allow passengers with collapsible wheelchairs, access on the bus.

It was also explained that Bus Operators must accept passengers with collapsible baby carriages. Some of the newer models are too bulky for the storage areas in the buses and are, therefore, too large to handle.

Baby carriages that fold down umbrella style are generally small enough and readily accepted.

Mr. Speaker, The Department of Public Transportation is crafting a policy document that supports the Wheelchair Access memo. It will also include the parameters for allowing baby carriages.

Mr. Speaker, presently, the first few rows of seats on the buses are designated to physically impaired passengers, seniors, and others needing assistance. There is signage on the bus to indicate this.

The aforementioned policy will be disseminated to all staff and will be included in the Bus Operators’ Handbook. Signage will be erected at the Central Bus Terminal, the Dockyard Ground Transportation Area and in bus shelters across the island.

This will foster clarity for passengers, existing staff members and will go a long way to ensuring that new operators know and adhere to the policy.

Mr. Speaker, the Department is aware that not allowing access for wheelchair and baby carriage users would be in contravention of the Human Rights Act Part II Unlawful Discrimination.

Mr. Speaker, an update on the completion of the policy will be reported to the House, accordingly.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (19)

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  1. 32n64w says:

    So when will the Department of Transport and the BIU issue a joint statement reprimanding the bus driver and placing him on unpaid leave for incompetence and failure to follow written department policy?

  2. blackbeard says:

    they have to screen the drivers better. the same driver would probably kick you off the bus for carrying groceries, stating the policy of no food on the bus.

    • Maddog says:

      Don’t be backward, were can you put a wheel chair on a bus.

  3. Cancer says:

    Does the driver have any common sense? Mr minister let’s see if any disapline will be administered or do bus drivers get away clean again???

    • PEPPER says:

      My guess is that the driver of the bus will be congratulated for his arrogant and rude attitude…when was the last time any of you have boarded a bus? these drivers are rude and do not want to help the tourist, or locals.

      • drunkenUrsula says:

        @pepper,everyday I travel on the bus,99% are very pleasant and helpful…I know of one driver said he will not be loading any wheelchairs on board ,i agree with him…if they with the wheel chair person cant fold and lift chair,he will not be doing so….I remember a few years back a driver helped a girl on the bus with stroller,some items fell out she cursed him off….sorry All have too suffer for ONE.

  4. Ashamed Bus Driver says:

    @32N64W
    Dereck Burgess knows better then anyone on the hill that when it comes to policies they just cant write a letter demanding anything.I say that because the have a signed agreement and the amend anything it must go through the JCC committee. These guys and I mean Goverment as well as managment need to stop misleading you the public . It justs shows total disregard and disrespect to the whole process.

    • drunkenUrsula says:

      @ashamed bus driver….I wonder if you are employed by DPT,cause they dont call themselves drivers but,OPERATORS…just wondering??????

      • Ashamed Bus Driver says:

        @drunkenUrsula….. No need for you to wonder because I am just as the name says ASHAMED BUS DRIVER. And I use the term DRIVER because we are,nt allowed to do our jobs as OPERATORS. Atrue OPERATOR is one who is allowed to operate his or her duties of which they were hired to do.But no matter what there always appears to be a huge problem with everything we do.Then again this is Bermuda known as another world. I read with amazement the comments on these blogs and as usual everyone has the answer so they think .If only the general public knew how poorly DPT is managed they themselves would go there and chase them all out seeing as we the public are those ones paying thier inflated salaries in exchange for next to nothing.

  5. Ajoke says:

    Disability and age discrimination , the human rights act again amend it now!

    • longtail says:

      And what would happen if a gay person with a wheel chair was thrown off of the bus – is this OK then?????

  6. Common Sense says:

    In comments on this issue in a previous article published by Bernews, BDA Playa stated that “Buses DO NOT HAVE TO CARRY WHEELCHAIRS” and later stated “She (the lady thrown off the bus) should have found out about the rules on Bermuda buses”. Now we hear from no less a person than Minister Derek Burgess advising Parliament that a memo was not only disseminated to Bus Operators, Supervisors and their Managers 7 months ago about a change in policy regarding passengers with collapsible wheelchairs and fold-down baby carriages, but was also debated in various forums open to all PTB employees, and in the Minister’s words “it was clearly communicated that all Operators must allow passengers with collapsible wheelchairs, access on the bus”. These are the exact words of the Minister, who is a former President of the BIU.

    In the case in question this lady clearly had a collapsible wheelchair because she was able to get on the bus AND sit down in a proper seat. Contrary to what BDA playa stated, if the woman had called PTB about the rules she would have been told that she COULD travel on our buses with a collapsible wheelchair. In any event she was obeying the rules as laid down by PTB.

    Other drivers allowed her to ride without any problems. Was this because they were aware of the change in policy? It is really unbelievable that a disabled person was actually forced to get off a bus after she had made the effort to get on board. It shows complete lack of empathy by the bus driver, together with either ignorance of the PTB policy, or a stubborn refusal to abide by it. This matter needs full investigation and we, the public, should be advised of the result.

  7. Cancer says:

    LISTEN – get rid of the whole PLP bunch and Bermuda will br a better world. Obviously the left hand is saying something very different from the right and this government can’t even manage the bus drivers properly

  8. Essential Service?? says:

    It is nigh time for the Public Transportation System to be made an essential Service. I am told the City of Toronto used to have similar problems with their transporation until that decision was made… It Is High Time… and if the PLP won’t do that it is another good reason to boot them out and we ask the OBA to make it a priority… let them settle disputes differently…the public are tired of all the drama!

  9. Just me! says:

    @Ashamed Bus Driver : I understand that we the public never get the full story, but my main issue is the fact that the Bus Driver involved treated the person disrespectfully. Whatever the case, they should’ve handled the situation differently point blank!!
    All in all, the hospitality of the Bermudian public has gone sooo down hill and its ridiculous. We are going to suffer big time when all the tourists spread all the bad experiences they are experiencing in all ways, here on this island. Sad thing is, no one will pay attention and change their spoiled and rude ways until they feel it for themselves.

  10. Cancer says:

    Bus drivers run tings!!!!

  11. Chardonnay says:

    Strange how bus drivers used to be so courteous and professional when they had to display their names above the front wind-screen. Now they are anonymous and they all get branded as rude and obnoxious because we can’t identify the rotten apples in the barrel. One driver in particular has positively dangerous anger-management issues and uses his bus as a weapon. Time to get serious Minister Burgess…