Disabled bus traveller gets rough treatment

BY KRIS DANDO
Last updated 12:54 07/02/2012
07KPNbusstopWEB
Kris Dando
BUS STOP BLUES: Shane Cotter, Christine Samson and their daughter Ivy-Rose say their treatment from Mana Coach Services is, in general, uncaring.

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Shane Cotter is fed up.

The Waitangirua resident, whose partner Christine Samson has a disability, says an ongoing problem with Mana Coach Services has them at wits end and shows no sign of getting better.

As Ms Samson requires a wheelchair, they catch wheelchair-accessible buses near their home up to four times a week for return trips into the Porirua CBD. Trouble is, many of the bus drivers are not sympathetic to their plight.

"Nine out of 10 drivers sit there and I have to get the ramp out, some of them don't know how to use it. A few won't even take us, saying they have schedules to keep and drive away. It's frustrating, they're not providing the service they should and just don't seem to care."

Mr Cotter says two weeks ago one driver was "very rough" in pulling Ms Samson's wheelchair in, banging her wheels hard on the floor of the bus. She has spina bifida, her lower back particularly sensitive to injury.

Ms Samson says she is "peeved", putting her efforts to catch public transport where possible in jeopardy.

"You just want to be acknowledged, for the drivers to have some courtesy. If we were elderly, they would help us."

Mr Cotter concedes there are a number of drivers who are very helpful, one going "out of his way" to assist he and Ms Samson in heavy rain last week. But the occasions of bus drivers not fulfilling their requirements to help them is mounting up, he says.

The rules on Ms Samson's eligibility for taxis changed recently, meaning they are more reliant on public transport than ever.

Mr Cotter has rung Metlink - who run the region's buses and trains on behalf of the regional council - but is referred to Mana Coach Services to make complaints. He says he has rung them before, speaking to an "operations manager" more than once, and has had his number taken and been told someone will ring him back.

"I've never been called back by anyone at Mana Coach Services."

A manager from the company told Kapi-Mana News that Mr Cotter and Ms Samson needed to make a formal, written complaint about the service they were receiving. "He has been asked to come in and see us, so far he has not done this. He needs to come in, in person, to lodge a complaint - apart from saying that, I'm not willing to comment any further."

Mr Cotter is adamant he went in to the Mana Coach Services offices in Commerce Cres and filled out a form "in the middle of last year".

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"The lady there took it [the complaint], maybe she didn't hand it on."

He says he will go in and make another complaint, in the hope it it will lead to better awareness from drivers.

- Kapi-Mana News

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