A BUS trip to Carnoustie has left one wheelchair-bound passenger vowing never to use the No. 73 ever again.
Donna Martey (48), from Dundee, contacted the Guide & Gazette after facing what she terms as a humiliating experience, not once, but three times.
She recently had her legs amputated and had been psyching herself up for her first bus journey without the help of her husband.
On November 19 at 2.52 p.m. Mrs Martey got on the Strathtay 73 bus to visit friends in Carnoustie. From the offset she felt marginalised by the bus crew.
She explained: “The bus driver drove off leaving me in the middle of an aisle. A gentleman swore at the bus driver to say that there was a lady in a wheelchair and he needed to stop.
“You can’t help someone in a wheelchair in a moving bus. The conductor came over and shoved me around the bus before I was secured.
“It’s my first time on a bus by myself in seven months and I had been working myself up to it.
“It was the most appalling journey and I will never get back on a bus again.”
Of course, Mrs Martey then had to make the return journey from Carnoustie, and she said that although it was a different bus crew, she received the same treatment.
She related: “On the 6.22 p.m. the driver proceeded to take off and left me in the middle of the bus again. The conductor grabbed a hold of my wheelchair and pushed me about. It was just an ordeal, I will never get on a bus again.”
Despite vowing never to use the No. 73 bus again, Mrs Martey again found herself forced to use the bus on Thursday at 3.46 p.m. after missing the No. 5 to Ninewells Hospital.
She said: “Exactly the same thing happened again. They left me in the middle of the aisle. The conductor told me to hold on and said I’d be alright as there was a red light coming up.
“They should never have left the bus stop before making sure I was alright. I’ve never had a problem with the Dundee buses, it just seems to be this No. 73.”
Mrs Martey is convinced that the money spent by the company on training has been wasted. She said: “It’s health and safety regulations. They’ve spent millions on health and safety training and I’ve reached out and held up elderly passengers on the bus, so it’s obviously not worked.
“These guys are all old-school bus drivers. They will never change and they drive about on these country roads thinking that nobody can see them and that nobody will complain. Well not me.
“I’ve never been disabled in my life and I now know how hard it is. My heart goes out to people in wheelchairs and that’s really sad because I had never thought about them before, but at least I can put my hands up and admit that.”
Also on the 2.52 p.m. service was Carnoustie man Jock Myles (67), who is also registered disabled. He gave Mrs Martey his details after witnessing the incident.
He said: “There were no incidents until we got to the bus station where the driver and conductor changed. At the Arbroath Road stop this elderly lady said to the driver ‘there’s a disabled lady here’, to which he replied: ‘Is she deaf and dumb as well? Can she not speak for herself?’
“She [Mrs Martey] got on and he thumped the ramp down and took off, leaving her stranded in mid-stream.
“The conductor came down the stairs and I said to him ‘That’s absolutely ridiculous’ and he said: ‘What?’ He just shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
“I think the driver was terrible and the way he spoke to the old lady and how he treated the lady in the wheelchair were all in very bad taste.”
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach Strathtay said: “We were extremely disappointed to hear of the incidents reported to us by Mrs Martey and our local team have been discussing this with the customer direct.
“Our staff go through extensive training procedures, including disability awareness training and we are highly concerned that the actions highlighted would fall far short of our expectations.
“We are currently investigating these incidents fully and will follow our internal disciplinary procedures as required, ensuring that the correct procedures are reiterated to all our staff.”
Mrs Martey would like to hear from anyone else who witnessed these events. To get in touch contact us on 01241 872274.