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First Bus fails to provide service for disabled girl

By West Briton  |  Posted: September 29, 2012

  • Kath Gibbons with daughter Lily at the bus stop in Coinagehall Street, Helston.

  • Kath and Lily Gibbons. 24/09/2012. Kath Gibbons with daughter Lily at the bus stop in Coinagehall Street, Helston. Picture by Keith Richards. TRKR20120924E-001_C

  • Kath and Lily Gibbons. 24/09/2012. Lily Gibbons at the bus stop in Coinagehall Street, Helston. Picture by Keith Richards. TRKR20120924E-002_C

  • Kath Gibbons with daughter Lily at the bus stop in Coinagehall Street, Helston Picture: Keith Richards

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First Bus has said it is "deeply sorry" after repeatedly leaving a 13-year-old disabled girl at the roadside.

Kath Gibbons said her daughter Lily, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, had two "absolute nightmares" while waiting for buses.

First blamed a breakdown in communications.

Mrs Gibbons said two weeks ago Lily and her carer Jodie Bidgood had to wait four hours in Helston for a bus with a disabled access.

And last Saturday, despite twice being assured buses Lily wanted to catch had disabled access, neither did.

"It is an appalling service provided for disabled passengers," Mrs Gibbons said.

"Lily needs more independence so her carer calls to take her out so she can pick up some life skills."

Lily wanted to visit friends in Falmouth but had to wait for hours for a bus with the right access. "They went to Penzance in the end," her mother said.

Last weekend, Mrs Gibbons rang in advance on Friday. "They said if I got Lily to Helston by 9.45am the bus would have a disabled access.

"But when it turned up it had no disabled access at all so I drove them to Falmouth. I couldn't believe it."

She then rang First again, and added: "They were quite apologetic and said they would make sure the 3.15 bus (from Falmouth) would have disabled access." It did not, so Mrs Gibbons had to drive back to Falmouth from her Porthleven home to pick them up.

"I phoned customer services and they said it was very frustrating."

She also said it was unfairly making Lily feel her disability was a stumbling block to getting around.

A company spokesman said: "We are in the process of updating our entire fleet to be low floor and easily accessible in time for the Disability Discrimination Act deadlines.

"We do have a policy of making reasonable adjustments for our disabled customers and where we are able to. We have investigated the complaint made by Mrs Gibbons and have found that a breakdown in communication on our part led to the failure to provide a low floor bus on Saturday.

"We are deeply sorry for this error and for the inconvenience this caused.

"We have reviewed the internal process that contributed to the error and will do everything possible to avoid similar mistakes being made in future."

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  • kreacherx  |  September 30 2012, 2:05PM

    What a lot of Whingers you people are! not one positive reaction from people about First & the friendliness of drivers? or from the disabled people who are really satisfied with the service, Disabled are a minority! how many wheelchairs do you see that are waiting to get on the bus? I see loads of over 60's who are "over the moon" that they can get out on their OP ticket.... I believe that First are sorry & they will try to rectify the problem. First is not "......an appalling service provided for disabled passengers" Oh & BTW Mobility allowance does exist! & so does her carer!???

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  • paddy  |  September 30 2012, 9:06AM

    We are a big hearted Nation which does a great deal for disabled people, but there really does need to be a limit to the lengths companies are required to go. Forcing ailing companies to spend vast sums of money for a small minority is likely to drive some of them out of business to the detriment of the majority. If her parents are unable to drive her about, perhaps Lilly should enquire whether she can use her generous mobility allowance to provide a free car for a relative, neighbour or friend who does have time to help her.

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  • PlymTransit  |  September 29 2012, 10:31PM

    You make it sound like First are the only operators with this problem. Bus companies were given a specific time frame in law to replace all their buses with full disabled access buses. There are still a few years left before this has to happen, and buses are extremely expensive to buy. Its a sad fact that no one is making a lot of money running buses in Cornwall at the moment. First have already pulled out of North Devon as they were losing money there. The other main operator in Cornwall Western Greyhound also have a large fleet of old Mercedes Minibuses running around so its not just First who cannot guarantee low floor easy access buses on their services. At least First tried to arrange low floor buses on the route for this passenger even if this didn't happen due to the communication issues.

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  • startbay  |  September 29 2012, 10:22AM

    This company has no regard for the travelling public at all .the only importance is the balance sheet.If this company was ran in a way that encouraged the travelling public and sent their buses where people want to go they would then get more passengers more revenue and be able to compete with the more successful companies.If a rival small company wishes to run a service if it is capable of making a profit it is run off the road by preditary tactics.This is quite common with this company in yesterdays press it was given a bad report by it's treatment of a passenger in Bristol,and the stock answer is" we are looking into it or we are deeply sorry" not good enough first bus start realising you are there to give a service and will only prosper if you put your customers first and not treat them as an inconvenience.

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  • HannahJones  |  September 27 2012, 10:02PM

    And yet they're always "deeply sorry".

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  • georgina123  |  September 27 2012, 9:41PM

    i had almost the same problem i had to wait two and a half hours on wednesday at the bus stop with a baby because the 3 busses that went past me to go where i needed to go had no buggy acsess in the end i got a lift home... first busses service are appaling

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