To ensure accessibility and a safe bus trip for all passengers, the GO GEORGE bus fleet was designed with a number of red-back priority seats on all buses, dedicated to passengers with special needs. In terms of accessibility regulations, all categories of special needs must be accommodated, including pregnant women, elderly people, disabled people and those with mobility problems, and people travelling with babies, baby strollers or small children.
Pregnant passengers making use of the GO GEORGE bus service seem to have had enough and are increasingly lodging complaints with the service about the non-compliance of other passengers who refuse to make the priority seats on the buses available to them.
According to some of the women, co-passengers are simply rude and refuse them a seat, “because they are also paying for their ticket”.
“‘It’s just common sense and manners,” one passenger said. “My parents never told me to give up any seat for a pregnant woman, you just know that’s what you do. It’s the same for elderly people and disabled people, but people just lack manners today and are very selfish.”
Despite continuous efforts and passenger behaviour campaigns to get cooperation from all passengers to respect and consider those with special needs, the problem of misuse of the priority seats remains unchanged.
“Disgruntled passengers seem to expect the bus driver to sort out inconsiderate and non-compliant passengers and get them to give up the priority seats,” said James Robb, GO GEORGE Manager. “Unfortunately, as the drivers are primarily required to operate the bus and handle ticket sales and validation, they are not allowed to leave their seat while the bus is operational. At this stage we cannot force anyone, but can only request their respectful cooperation. The rule about priority seating is part of our Conditions of Carriage, of which a copy has been applied inside every bus, and passengers are welcome to point that out to the culprits.”
A sticker depicting qualifying passengers is visible on the side of priority seats. Robb encourages passengers who qualify to approach whoever is sitting on a designated seat, and kindly request the use of the seat, provided it is not already occupied by a special needs passenger.
As one disenchanted passenger put it: “To all those pregnant women out there, I suggest you don’t assume the world is waiting for you to offer their seat to you. It just won’t happen. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It is that simple.”