A disabled Papamoa man twice denied access on local buses is
taking his case to the Human Rights Commission.
Peter Baker, 54, cannot walk and relies on a four-wheel-drive
wheelchair to get around.
On Wednesday, Mr Baker used his chair to block a Bay Hopper
bus driver from returning to his seat. Police were called to
the Palm Beach Plaza stop but Mr Baker was not charged.
The stunt was about proving a point, he said.
Three weeks ago Mr Baker and helper Diane Clinton caught two
buses to Mount Maunganui. When they tried to catch a bus
home, they were told they were not allowed.
"The bus driver said 'you can't come on to the bus because
you have a wheelchair'. I said 'you have a sign that says
access'," Mr Baker said.
"He rang up on the RT . . . then he turned around and said,
'You can ride [to Ms Clinton] but the guy in the wheelchair
can't', slammed the doors in our faces and took off."
Mr Baker said he was disgusted and felt victimised. He
complained and received a management guarantee the incident
would not be repeated, he said.
However, on Wednesday in Tauranga city Mr Baker was again
told he was not allowed on because of his chair. Mr Baker
said he had an embarrassing fight with the driver in front of
passengers, demanding access on the bus because it was his
All Tauranga urban buses are wheelchair accessible with low
floors and ramps.
Eventually the driver let Mr Baker on but when it reached the
Papamoa stop, he refused the driver access to his seat.
"I don't want to stick my neck out like this but I've got to.
I'm doing it because there will be others out there who are
unable to stand up for themselves."
CCS Disability Action regional manager Jo Herbert said a lack
of education was an issue and it had worked with Go Bus,
which operates Bay Hopper, around disability awareness.
"If you have a bus licence, it doesn't necessarily mean you
know how to be respectful to people with disabilities."
Bay of Plenty Regional Council's transport policy manager
Garry Maloney said the incident was "disappointing and
concerning" and awareness of the council's
wheelchair-friendly policy was something it would look into
with the bus operator.
Go Bus operations manager Ashley Burton could not be reached
for comment yesterday.
The Human Rights Commission said the company could be
breaching the Human Rights Act but without a complaint she
could not comment further.
- Bay of Plenty Times