Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 14:53 UK

Woman angry over poor bus access

Bev Kettley
Bev Kettley was told by one bus driver to move to Truro

A wheelchair user has accused a Cornish bus company of discriminating against disabled people, the elderly and mothers with pushchairs.

Bev Kettley, who has cerebral palsy, said on occasions she had waited at her local bus stop in St Agnes for up to three hours for an "easy access" bus.

In the latest incident, she returned home after 90 minutes because four consecutive buses were not accessible.

First Devon and Cornwall has offered its "sincere apologies" to Mrs Kettley.

I can't 'get on my bike' and thanks to First Devon and Cornwall I can't get on my bus either
Bev Kettley

"I think it's despicable - they're just passing the buck and trying to fob me off," Mrs Kettley told BBC News.

"Under the Disability Discrimination Act all buses should be accessible, but they're not.

"One bus driver told me I should move to Truro. It's ridiculous - I was born and bred in St Agnes and need to be near my father who lives here."

Mrs Kettley said she was "fed up to the back teeth" with politicians who jump on the bandwagon and encourage everyone to go green and use public transport.

'Essential maintenance'

"I can't 'get on my bike' and, thanks to First Devon and Cornwall, I can't get on my bus either," she said.

"I've missed an appointment I had this morning so I've had to phone and apologise.

"I've also been told the new winter bus timetable will not have the easy access symbol on it, so how on earth will I know when I can get a bus?"

Cornwall County Council said it was aware of Mrs Kettley's situation, but it was unable to help as the responsibility lay with the bus operator.

First Devon and Cornwall bus: Pic First
First says all single-decker buses will have easy access by 2015

First Devon and Cornwall's managing director Marc Reddy told BBC News the company made every effort to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act, and that 56% of its buses in Cornwall were low-floor, easy access.

Mr Reddy said all single-deck buses would be fully accessible by 2015 and all double-deckers would be adapted by 2017.

He said in a statement: "We would like to offer our sincere apologies Mrs Kettley who encountered difficulties travelling from St Agnes to Truro today."

He added that three easy access buses were off the road for "essential maintenance".

Mr Reddy also said the disability access symbol had been removed from the winter timetable, because First could not guarantee which buses would operate on particular routes.

"Those wishing to know exactly which bus will be low-floor should call our customer service team on the day they wish to travel."

Disabled girl's bus pass refused
10 Sep 08 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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