Disabled university student denied access to bus in Brisbane

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Wheelchair-bound college student reveals the shameful reason an impatient bus driver refused her entry and how he humiliated her when she was finally let on board

  • Sarah Richards tried to board a bus at Eight Mils Plains in Brisbane
  • Disabled woman could not access the driveway blocked by a garden bed
  • Frustrated driver said he was late and unable to reverse the vehicle
  • Wheelchair-bound student says not the first time she has faced discrimination

A wheelchair-bound university student says she was “humiliated” when a city bus driver refused to enter his driveway for being late and berating her when she was finally let in.

Sarah Richards has been in a wheelchair since she was two years old because of a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta — meaning she has extremely brittle bones that break easily.

The 21-year-old from Brisbane has been using public transport to visit the University of Queensland with few problems since 2018.

But she said there have been times when she has felt discriminated against because of her disability – the latest being last month.

The college student was waiting at the Eight Mile Plains stop when a bus pulled up, but the door with the wheelchair ramp she needed was in front of a yard.

Sarah Richardswas, University of Queensland student, says she was denied access to a bus by a frustrated driver

Sarah Richardswas, University of Queensland student, says she was denied access to a bus by a frustrated driver

She warned the bus driver, but claimed he became annoyed and demanded that she wait for the next shift because he was already “late” and unable to reverse.

“I was trying to get his attention and let him know I needed this bus. But he actually indicated that he wouldn’t let me go,” said Mrs. Richards.

“He still let people in through the back door, but I wasn’t allowed in.”

Ms Richards said she begged the bus driver before he finally decided to turn back and let her get on the bus.

“After actually begging him, he said he would go back and turn around,” she said.

“He rolled his eyes and sighed. It was obvious he was very annoyed.”

Sarah (pictured) said Translink apologized but advised she should have arrived at the bus stop earlier

Sarah (pictured) said Translink apologized but advised she should have arrived at the bus stop earlier

Sarah (pictured) said Translink apologized but advised she should have arrived at the bus stop earlier

Ms Richards said her horrific encounter with the driver continued when she finally got into the vehicle.

“When I finally got in, he scolded me and told me I should have been at the stop earlier,” she said.

“I said park better next time.

“After I got on the plane, he yelled to everyone ‘Hurry up, we’re going to be late now’.

“It was humiliating. It wasn’t fair that he blamed me.’

‘People who don’t need a wheelchair aren’t approached that way and don’t have to ask to be let through.’

Ms Richards says this isn’t the first time she’s had a bad experience with public transport as a result of not parking buses properly.

“The last time this happened was about a month ago and it was the same problem,” she said.

The bus driver told her he was late and was unable to turn the bus around because he would be late

The bus driver told her he was late and was unable to turn the bus around because he would be late

The bus driver told her he was late and was unable to turn the bus around because he would be late

“It was humiliating. It wasn’t fair that he blamed me.’

‘People who don’t need a wheelchair aren’t approached that way and don’t have to ask to be let through.’

Ms Richards says this isn’t the first time she’s had a bad experience with public transport as a result of not parking buses properly.

“The last time this happened was about a month ago and it was the same problem,” she said.

“The driver parked too far forward and couldn’t lower the ramp.”

“He told me to wait to get the next one. I argued with him and he finally let me through.

“He rolled his eyes at me and asked the other bus drivers to watch as he backed up.”

The 21-year-old from Brisbane, Australia, said she has always taken public transport since she started at the University of Queensland

The 21-year-old from Brisbane, Australia, said she has always taken public transport since she started at the University of Queensland

The 21-year-old from Brisbane, Australia, said she has always taken public transport since she started at the University of Queensland

Ms Richards said bus operators Translink had apologized for the meeting but wanted more training to help drivers better understand the needs of disabled passengers.

“It’s complete discrimination in my eyes,” she said.

‘I called Translink and they said I should have been at the stop earlier. I did get an apology, but they also told me to get there early.”

“It’s very frustrating. If this happened to me, I’m sure it happened to others too.’

‘I hope Translink does better in training their drivers.’

Brisbane City Council has been contacted for comment.

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