First Solo outing

May 22nd, 2024

First Solo outing

I hadn’t seen my Mum for a while, so I decided to take my first solo excursion on the bus to Helensburgh.

I’ve just been walking with the boot without crutches inside the house for the last few days, but going out on my own I decided to take one crutch with me, not so much for support, but to act as a kind of marker to other people that I am disabled and need to take a bit of extra time doing things like stairs.

I managed the trip with no problems, but would make one observation. The new buses on the Lochgoilhead to Helensburgh route look much nicer than the old ones did, and perhaps have slightly better suspension, but as far as disabled or elderly people (the vast majority of people using this service) go, they are a retrograde step. They are smaller than the old buses with commensurately less leg room, and also have steep interior steps which need to be negotiated to access the majority of the seating. There is one “proper” disabled seat, and a further four fold down ones, two of which are in a wheelchair/luggage space.

So when I got on in the car park this morning, the bus was empty and I took the disabled seat at the front. However, as the bus passed through Succoth and Arrochar it filled right up, and quite a few of the passengers were old people with sticks and walkers who had a lot of difficulty with the steps. I did actually think about standing up and giving someone my seat, but I didn’t, because I had no confidence in my ability to come down the steps if the bus were moving, or alternatively in my ability to stand up on a moving bus for 70 minutes. I really felt quite guilty, and I was glad that my disability with the boot and the crutch was pretty visible. I would have hated to be in a position of someone with (for example) impaired balance, because I would have felt very awkward using that seat.

In addition, the luggage space on the new bus is very limited and as its other main clientele is climbers with big packs, this makes people put their stuff in the (very narrow) central aisle, which makes it even worse for people with mobility problems.

I think the council should have thought a bit harder around user profiles before putting this type of bus on this kind of route.