DoI Minister Tim Crookall has signalled that Bus Vannin is moving closer to accepting class 2 mobility scooters.
Douglas Central MHK Chris Thomas said during Tuesday’s sitting that he’d seen more progress in a few minutes of Keys questions than he had in years.
Class 2 mobility scooters aren’t allowed on Manx buses due to concerns around safety. However, where the buses are used off-island, the scooters are permitted by different operators.
Mr Thomas had asked the Minister which scheduled bus services are accessible for users of class 2 mobility scooters who have a permit to travel on low-floor buses adapted to carry wheelchairs, whether such users need the prior approval of Bus Vannin to use those services?
He was told in response: ‘There are currently no scheduled bus services available with access for class 2 mobility scooters with a permit to travel.’
Mr Crookall added: ‘In April 2021 the Department committed to ‘adopting the United Kingdom Confederation of Passenger Transport Voluntary 330 Code of Best Practice for the use and acceptance of mobility scooters on low floor buses … in a way that is appropriate to the Isle of Man’ and ‘should establish a steering group, to include disability and user representation, to inform adoption of the Code and other aspects of accessibility to bus services’ and ‘should submit a report with recommendations to Tynwald.’
The work of that group was delayed by the election and various other issues, but Mr Crookall says work is processing and he expects a report, complete with recommendations, to be brought forward ‘within the next few months’.
Almost Tempted to Agree
After a back and forth between the two, Mr Thomas asked whether it was ‘just a question of issuing some guidance to bus drivers and staff and actually setting up the arrangements’, as well as setting up a system for users of class 2 mobility scooters to register themselves and their vehicles and undergo any training?
He also said the island risked being a ‘laughing stock’ if it failed to act and ‘potentially in breach of international conventions’.
Mr Crookall said: ‘I am almost tempted to agree completely with the Hon. Member in what he has just stated, Mr Speaker. There is a bit more to it than that, and we have to also … I think out of a 395 thousand bus stops we have around the Island at the moment we have about a hundred that are available to use for Motability scooters. We have registered those and we have a list of them now, but obviously we are looking at routes that they can be used on. People will know which buses they can use, where they can get on and off on their scooters. But on the whole I am tempted to agree with the Hon. Member, yes.’
This led Mr Thomas to say he wanted to congratulate Mr Crookall as he felt they had made more progress during these questions than he had seen in years.