I don’t even know why I still see this same argument time and time again on my Facebook timeline. People arguing and debating about a subject that shouldn’t even be a debate in the first place. Who should be entitled to use the wheelchair spaces on a bus.
Now you would think the answer would be obvious, what with them clearly being marked as spaces for people in wheelchairs, and even handy little signs asking people to move to make way for a wheelchair user. However I am seeing so many parents saying that they should be allowed to stay in the space with their child in a pram or pushchair!
I’ve seen the same arguments time and time again “I was here first, they should wait for the next bus” “I paid for a seat on the bus too, they can wait for the next bus”. “I can’t take my child out, they’re sleeping” “Isn’t that what they get mobility cars for” “But they wanted to be treated equally, this is equal”.
What they fail to realise is that these spaces ONLY exist thanks to disabled people, and their campaigning for an accessible transport system. Before these spaces existed, parents would take their child out their push chair, from newborn to toddler, fold it up and sit on a seat whilst holding their child. They wouldn’t have even questioned it.
I think the thing that irks me most is the entitled way of looking at things these parents have. They have paid for a ticket therefore they deserve to stay there. Rather than having a bit of empathy, and just decent common courtesy for their fellow human being. What they don’t understand is that it’s not about who “paid for their seat”. You pay for a space on the bus, be that standing or sitting. It’s about how much of the bus is accessible to the respective parties. An able bodied person has access to over 50 spaces on the bus. A person in a wheelchair is limited to 1 space, a space that when occupied cannot be used by them. They have access to 2% of the space on the bus, and yet you still say that this IS equal treatment? By denying a person who needs that space access to it you are denying the one thing that gives them even a slight hint at equal access.
And whilst one may argue that, yes, mobility cars do exist. And yes, many disabled people do use one. But not every disabled person wants one, or is even entitled to one. Having a disability does not automatically mean you automatically get a car, you have to meet the criteria to get one, which sadly many people (even those that have mobility issues) do not meet. And even if they do meet the criteria, not everyone can drive, and not everyone has access to a person who can drive the car for them.
It also infuriates me when I hear people say that a disabled person can just wait for the next bus. Not only is this again a really entitled way of looking at things, but it is also extremely judgemental and inconsiderate. A person who is oxygen dependent may not have the luxury of waiting for the next bus. I’ve been there with Nova, where you get a few hours before your oxygen supply runs out. A person with a heart condition, who may die if they spend too much time in the cold can not wait for the next bus. A person who has stiff joints and muscles, and being in their chair for too long causes them pain, cannot simply wait for the next bus. And this is just scratching the surface of the countless reasons why a person should not simply “wait for the next bus” because someone else can’t be bothered to fold their pushchair.
I hope every day that I will never be in the position that I need this space for Nova, and I have unfortunately been in the position where I have had to use it on a train due to her feeding tube and pump. But I can guarantee, if someone more in need for that space asks for it, I will gladly take Nova out of her pushchair, sit her on my lap and get on with my day. Because that’s what decent human beings do.
On a sidenote, here is a picture of Nova with a bubble beard.