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Women’s Safety: Disabled Woman Begged The Bus Driver To Let Her Travel Home Safely’

January 18, 2022

A disabled woman is calling for greater understanding of female safety after she “begged” a bus driver to let her travel home when her pass did not work.

Rachel Davies’s pass was declined when she tried to take the first of two buses home, in Northampton. The Stagecoach driver let her travel to her first stop but could not help further.

She said a “transition plan” was needed to ensure journeys were completed.

Stagecoach said the driver had been “following the rules”.

Travelling alone

Ms Davies, 27, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that causes dislocations in her hands and knees.

She also has nerve damage in her left leg and uses a stick to make walking easier.

And at 4ft 6in, she feels “anxious” travelling alone.

“I’m very aware that I can easily be attacked and I can’t do anything about it,” Ms Davies says.

Tried scanning

On the evening she was travelling, Ms Davies had only her phone and bus pass with her.

After the driver tried scanning the pass three times, it came up as “hot-listed”, meaning no longer valid for travel, and he had to confiscate it.

At the time, Ms Davies did not understand why it was not working.

She tried to explain without it she could not travel on her second bus, operated by Britannia Bus, as it did not have contactless technology and she had no other way to pay.

Walk home

The driver looked “really conflicted”, Ms Davies says, but said he could not return her pass – because it would be caught on CCTV.

“That overrode my safety,” she says.

The Stagecoach driver let her travel free to her first stop – the city centre – and advised her to call the council about the situation, even though it was after office hours.

“I kept begging and pleading, ‘I don’t want to walk home alone,'” Ms Davies says.

“I would have been happy with him taking it [the pass] if he made sure I got home.”

Being left

Fortunately, Ms Davies, who volunteers with young people at The Yard: Community Courtyard, was able to contact her boss, who arranged and paid for a taxi to take her home, but she was left feeling vulnerable.

“Women are scared of walking home at night,” she says.

“No-one should be less important than procedure policies.”

Ms Davies says she felt “frustrated” by the “lack of duty of care”, especially following the murder of Sarah Everard, when the police urged women to “wave a bus down if they feel vulnerable and distressed“.

“The best approach would have been for him to say, ‘We are not going to leave you in this situation, we will take you to the next bus service and explain and then they will get you home,'” she says.

“There needs to be a transition plan, instead of being left to fend for yourself.”

Make mistakes

Ms Davies later discovered her pass had been rejected because she had used an old card.

“I am human, people make mistakes,” she says.

“But it doesn’t mean that in a time when someone is close to tears and begging to get home, they should be sent away.”

Stagecoach said: “Our driver was following these rules.

“He carried the passenger free of charge to the town centre arriving at 17:00.”

Britannia Bus has also been contacted.

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