November 10, 2005

Brit Teen Protester Stops Rush Hour Traffic Over Broken Bus Lifts

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express

LONDON --An 18-year-old student left several London streets jammed for over an hour Friday afternoon as she protested the lack of working wheelchair lifts on London's double-decker buses.

Maria Whitefield told the Camden New Journal that she had tried in vain to get Transport for London (TFL) to follow their own policies, which require the buses to remain out of service if they do not have operational lifts.

So, Whitefield parked her motorized wheelchair in front of a row of TFL buses during the rush hour on busy, four-lane Camden Road. At one point, eight buses and dozens of cars were stuck in the gridlock.

Even though police came and removed Whitefield, she defiantly maneuvered her electric-powered chair back into the street -- over and over again.

"They say that buses will not go out without working ramps but in reality they hardly ever work and it means the drivers just drive off without us," she explained.

"This is an equal opportunities protest. Everybody should be allowed to get on a bus."

Local disability rights advocates said they understood Whitefield's frustration, but said it would have been better if she worked with them to stage an organized protest, rather than doing it alone.

Related: "Gridlock as disabled student protests lack of access" (Camden New Journal)

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Posted on November 10, 2005