Bus rules relaxed for prams and scooters
Parents with strollers and children with scooters should no longer be barred from buses after a rule change to prevent drivers leaving them at the roadside.
A new set of rules, approved by Greater Wellington Regional Council yesterday, will stop drivers from forbidding travel to anyone with a pram or scooter that cannot be folded.
In 2013, heavily pregnant mother Jane Crichton was yelled at by a Karori bus driver for taking her stroller on board and was told she would not be allowed on if she tried it again.
More recently, drivers have been put in the awkward position of having to leave children on the roadside because guidelines allow only folded scooters to be carried on buses and trains, despite most modern scooters not being foldable.
In a report tabled before councillors yesterday, staff admitted the old rules had been the subject of complaints from passengers and operators.
Now, bus drivers will be obligated to lower, or "kneel", their buses to assist passengers with prams. But for safety and security reasons, they will not be required to leave their seats and help passengers get on or off.
They will, however, be required to wait until passengers with prams have secured them and taken a seat before driving off.
Under the new rules, all scooters that can be carried by hand will be allowed on buses and trains, but they should be folded if possible.
Wellington City councillor Iona Pannett, who has been lobbying the regional council to change its rules since 2013, said the new guidelines would make a big difference to parents of small children.
As a mother of a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, she had spent many years dealing with the challenge of riding Wellington's public transport with a pram in tow.
"The only time I've ever felt like a second-class citizen, as a woman and a mother, is when I've got on a bus," she said.
The new rules were a step in the right direction, but she was still concerned that people were being asked to carry children on their laps if there was no room for a pram.
"Having a small child on your knees is not a good situation.
"If you've got a toddler they tend to scream and wriggle, and the way some bus drivers wind around Wellington's streets I don't think [having them on your knee] is always appropriate."
The Dominion Post