Wheelchair users have won a Supreme Court case which will grant them priority spaces on buses over pushchairs. The case was first brought to the Courts by Doug Paulley, a disabled man from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, when he boarded a bus operated by FirstGroup which had a sign reading: “Please give up this space if needed for a wheelchair user.”
However a woman with a sleeping baby in a pushchair removed to move out of the priority space- even when asked by the driver- leaving Paul stuck at the bus stop.
A judge at Leeds County Court ruled that Firstgroup’s policy (which requests but does not require that non-disabled passengers allow wheelchair users priority spaces) had breached the Equality Act 2010 which calls for companies to make “reasonable adjustments” for disabled people.
The Court of Appeal then ruled that should Firstgroup have required as opposed to requested, it would have not struck a fair balance between the needs of the disabled and other vulnerable peoples.
This didn’t stop Paulley however, who then took the matter to the Supreme Court. Lord Neuberger, the Supreme Court’s president, said that FirstGroup drivers, after requesting and being refused, should then take further steps. Paulley also had support from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which called the Supreme Court’s decision “a victory for disabled people’s rights” and “a hugely important decision, which has helped clarify the current state of the law, and will give confidence to thousands of disabled people in Britain to use public transport”.
The court also suggested that the law be looked at in order to provide more clarity for bus and other companies in the Bus Services Bill.