There’s a coach service that stops in Wetherby, my home town, once a day in each direction, to Newcastle upon Tyne via Durham and southbound to Nottingham via Leeds and Sheffield. I thought I’d try it out, because National Express now claim that “virtually all of our fleet now has a passenger lift at the front entrance to make travelling with us as accessible as possible.” But I note that “We must therefore assess all wheelchairs to see if they are compatible for carriage on the coach itself. You can do this by calling our dedicated Assisted Travel Team before you travel.” I therefore rang them to ask if my wheelchair and the Wetherby stop is OK. They said they would get back to me and didn’t. What followed was Kafkaesque.
Me, 28th April: Please can you tell me if I can travel in my wheelchair, it’s a manual wheelchair, a RGK Maxima. Please can you tell me if Wetherby coach stop is accessible for your coaches?
NX, 29th April: I can confirm that your wheelchair has been safety checked with our services so that is fine. Wetherby is a stop that we would need to assess to see if it is accessible.
Me, 29th April: Please can you assess Wetherby stop
NX, 30th April: Your request has been sent off to the relevant department to assess.Please can you check with us once you have decided upon a date of travel so that we can check to see if the assessment has been done. I hope this helps.
WTF?! They asked me for a travel date for the stop I didn’t know whether I could use. How does that work?
Me, 30th April:No, please can you let me know when it’s been done, and how long it will take, rather than asking me to contact you on some nebulous future date?
Me, 8th May: So have you had a look at this stop yet?
NX, 8th May: The stop check has been requested however has yet to be scheduled in.The stop will be scheduled in and checked when our Safety team are within that region. Each member of the Safety team are in charge of one region each and while this is the case, due to the region being quite large, it may take some time for this stop to be checked. I thank you for your patience in the meantime.
Me, 21st May: Please can you tell me if you have assessed the Wetherby bus stop, and if not, when you will be able to do so
Me, 31st July: Have you checked the Wetherby bus stop yet?
NX, 6th August: I am sorry for the delay. I have spoken to the department that checks stops and they have advised that they aim to have the check done by the end of this month. Thank you for your patience in the meantime.
NX, 17th November: I am really sorry for the delay in our response.The Wetherby stop has been checked and I am sorry to inform the verdict has come back as the stop being inaccessible. The space in use is not flat and does not have sufficient amount of space for it to be deployed.I hope this information helps, thank you for your patience whilst this was looked into.
Yeah that helped loads, thank you National Express, and 6½ months is a perfectly reasonable time to tell me that the stop I use for local buses without problem is not accessible to your “accessible” coaches. Just like non-disabled people – oh sorry, wait, they can book a day ahead and rely on being able to travel, or even Turn Up And Go.
For Goodness’ sake.