Saturday, September 15, 2007

Playing the disability card.

On Thursday I had a passenger on my coach who instructed me that she had reserved the front two nearside seats as she was asthmatic . Indeed the loading chart had a driver's note that declared "Pax disabled req 2f/seats k/side".

We all know that many passengers want the front seats of the coach especially the pair on the left. Company policy is that passengers can be told to move if these seats are required by disabled passengers. Common sense would declare that passengers with genuine mobility problems should have priority with these front seats. Because of the driver's note on my loading chart I had to tell the existing front seat passengers that they would have to move because of this woman's CLAIMED disability.

I cannot understand why this woman would need a front seat because of asthma. Her condition would be the same whatever seat she sat on. There was also no reason for her able bodied friend to also require a front seat. If someone genuinely requires a front seat then it will not matter whether it is on the left or the right. We all know what people like her want, it is the view. This woman traveled on my coach for 2 and a 1/2 hours before a refreshment break and another 2 and a 1/2 hours after the break. In these 5 hours of traveling she did not have an asthma attack.

Playing the disability card with asthma to obtain the front seats is simply taking the piss and people should realize this for what an abuse it is.
The 2003 Disabled Discrimination Act saw legal entitlement for those with a disability to be given "the same treatment as those without disability". I take this to mean that they are offered a seat on a coach like everybody else, not one specifically, though many with some form of disability think this gives them carte blanch to special treatment, thus tipping the balance the other way, resulting in those without disabilities from being discriminated against; i.e. those people you had to move from the front seat.

I understand there have been legal challenges against individuals and companies who are alleged to have fallen short of the legislation, so now many bend over backwards to ensure those claiming a disability are not only catered for equally but given special treatment to the detriment of others.

Those without even a supposed disability are catered for - once I had a drivers note that stated a lady required a front seat as she was "extra tall" and "needed the extra leg room"! As 'any fule know' the legroom in the front seats is the worst of all. I'd have preferred a more honest request "passenger likes to see where he/she is going".
I am against all forms of discrimination - positive and negative. I was annoyed at this woman clearly taking the piss and obtaining an unfair advantage. I am equally annoyed by the company culture of being afraid to say "No" to anything. Why the operator on the Disabled Telephone Help Desk did not have the guts and common sense to stand up to this woman and tell her "No" is beyond me.

You and I are both not allowed to blog about this nationwide company but I guess they are reading our blogs which should keep them on their toes! Nice thing is that we know there is more to life than buses and coaches and that someone in Hagley Road has to read everything we write. I do not expect to read about Middle East politics in the next edition of the Drivers' Update newsletter.
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