Number of buggies allowed on buses clarified and communicated after emergency evacuation concerns raised

Concern

A reporter has raised a concern relating to the company policy on the number of buggies allowed on board buses at Stagecoach North East. According to the reporter, the company have a policy which states that buses are authorised to carry one wheelchair and ‘unlimited’ buggies, as long as they do not obstruct the aisle.

The concern is that in the event of an emergency, it would take a significant amount of time to evacuate the buggies, in addition to passengers and a wheelchair user. During busy periods when buggies wish to alight, there is less space for them to get through, so the wheelchair user is required to manoeuvre to make room. The reporter believes this has often led to altercations between passengers.

Could Stagecoach North East:

  • Carry out a risk assessment to identify the time needed to safely evacuate 30-40 passengers, a wheelchair user and multiple buggies?
  • Consider introducing a figure on how many buggies are allowed on a bus for consistency?

Stagecoach North East’s response

We welcome the feedback and concern raised by the reporter and were already aware of the concern. Drivers had different perceptions about the safe number of buggies. The decision was taken to remove the onus on the driver by placing a revised sign on all buses.

The sign confirms that two buggies maximum may be carried, ensuring consistency and eliminating the ambiguity. We recognise that it may not be easy for a driver to regulate the number of buggies on their vehicles. All our vehicles are fitted with a radio system to contact a supervisor for advice if they experience any issues. We also have a contract with a local taxi company to provide transport for a wheelchair user should the capacity on one of our vehicles be exceeded.

Actions taken as a result of this report:

A decision had already been taken to change the sign in all our vehicle interiors to confirm that a maximum of two buggies are permitted at any time.

These have now been produced and are fitted to all of our vehicles in the North East: “When this space is not needed for a wheelchair, and at the discretion of the driver, it may be used for small prams, buggies and approved mobility scooters. Prams and buggies must not block the aisle and a maximum of two are permitted at any time. Should a wheelchair user require to board, you are required by law to reposition small prams and fold your buggy and stow it elsewhere on the vehicle.”

Any lessons learnt that you would like to share with other CIRAS member organisations?

Constantly review current practices and not only listen to employees but involve them in decision making.