News, Culture & Society

Disabled university student denied entry to a Brisbane bus

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

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

A wheelchair-bound university student says she felt ‘humiliated’ when a council bus driver refused to deploy his ramp because he was running late and berated her when she was finally let on.

Sarah Richards has been in a wheelchair since she was two years old due to a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta – which means she has extremely brittle bones that break easily.

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

But she said there have been times when she felt discriminated against due to her disability – the latest occurring just last month.

The university student was waiting at the Eight Mile Plains stop when a bus pulled up but the door with the wheelchair ramp she needs was in front of a garden.

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

She alerted the bus driver but claims he became annoyed and demanded she wait for the next service because he was already ‘running late’ and was unable to reverse. 

‘I tried to get his attention, and let him know I needed this bus. But he basically indicated that he wouldn’t let me on,’ Ms Richards said.

‘He was still allowing people to board through the back door, but wasn’t allowing me to get on.’

Ms Richards said she pleaded with the bus driver before he finally decided to loop back around and let her board the bus. 

‘After basically begging him, he said he would go back and turn around,’ she said. 

‘He was rolling his eyes and sighing, it was evident that he was very annoyed.’

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

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

Ms Richards said her horrible encounter with the driver continued when she finally boarded the vehicle. 

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

‘I said well next time you should park better.

‘After I boarded, he then yelled at everyone ‘hurry up, we are going to be late now’.

 ‘It was humiliating. It wasn’t fair that he was blaming me.’

‘People who do not need to use wheelchairs wouldn’t be spoken to like that and they wouldn’t have to ask to be let on.’

Ms Richards said this was not the first time she has had a bad experience on public transport as a result of busses not parking properly.

‘The previous time this happened was about a month ago and it was the same problem,’ she said. 

The bus driver told her he was running late and was unable to reverse bus as he'd be late

The bus driver told her he was running late and was unable to reverse bus as he’d be late

‘It was humiliating. It wasn’t fair that he was blaming me.’

‘People who do not need to use wheelchairs wouldn’t be spoken to like that and they wouldn’t have to ask to be let on.’

Ms Richards said this was not the first time she has had a bad experience on public transport as a result of busses not parking properly.

‘The previous time this happened was about a month ago and it was the same problem,’ she said. 

‘The driver parked too far forward and could not let down the ramp.’

‘He told me that I’d need to wait and get the next one. I argued with him and he finally let me on.

‘He rolled his eyes at me and asked the other bus drivers to watch while he reversed.’

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

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

Ms Richards said bus operators Translink had apologised to her for the encounter but wants more training to help drivers better understand the needs of disabled passengers.

‘It is complete discrimination in my eyes,’ she said. 

‘I called Translink and they told me I should have been at the stop earlier. I did receive an apology, but they also told me I should be there earlier.’

‘It is very frustrating. If this has happened to me, I’m sure it has happened to others.’

‘I hope that Translink might do better in educating their drivers.’

Brisbane City Council has been contacted for comment.   

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk