As a wheelchair user I had avoided buses as being too awkward and the ramps being too unreliable and the wheelchair spaces always unavailable. That was based on what many people had told me. On three recent trips to London I have used buses to get me between Euston Station and my destination. All went very smoothly. The drivers were fully co-operative, the ramps all worked and the spaces were always available. Some journeys were on the New Routemasters where the conductor supervised the ramps and ensured we were OK. On a total of seven single journeys there has been just one actual problem. Near Waterloo Station the driver had to reposition the bus as the ramp would not extend due to a problem with the kerb or the paving. Outside the Home Office in Horseferry Road thoughtless planning with security bollards on the pavement meant there was only just room to access the ramp without repositioning the bus. I had a PA (‘support worker’ to those who do not understand our lingo) each time and she did assist me up and down the ramps. I use a semi-motorised wheelchair and do not think I would have the strength to manage the ramps as some are fairly steep. Compared with taxis there was a massive cost saving although we did gt a bit colder and wetter at times. I don’t think it was much slower either, especially as you can wait a while for a taxi sometimes. Wheelchair users apparently travel free on London buses although I do also have a national bus pass from Milton Keynes Council. Using a pre-paid Oyster card it only cost £1.45 per journey for my PA (you pay a second time if you change buses, but the daily maximum for bus fares on Oyster is only £4.40). We even travelled at 5.30pm one weekday and although busy it was not a problem. Planning which bus to catch and where from can be a pain, but there is lots of information here on the Internet. I use http://journeyplanner.tfl.gov.uk. Careful choice of buses can make life easier – for example where several routes cover the same journey choosing the one that stops inside Euston Station bus station rather than the other side of Euston Road can be a clever move in bad weather. If you have not tried using the bus I urge you to give it a go.
Ken Dale on Welcome to Douglas’…