SUPERTRAM operator Stagecoach could face legal action over rule changes which have seen many mobility scooters banned from trams.
Sheffield-based law firm Irwin Mitchell says it is acting on behalf of disabled people in other parts of the country challenging the new rules which mean that, in order to travel on trams, mobility scooters and wheelchairs must be small enough to fit onto buses.
Andrew Lockley, head of public law at Irwin Mitchell, said: “The proposed change of policy, which now excludes certain mobility scooters from boarding the Supertram, may fall foul of the Equality Act 2010 – although this will depend on the details of any individual case.
“We are representing a number of disabled and elderly people across the country who are challenging policy decisions which have the effect of limiting their access to public transport and it could be that Supertram’s policy can also be challenged.
“Many elderly and disabled people rely on public transport to get around the city. It promotes their independence. Transport companies have an obligation not to discriminate under the Equality Act because of disability and age, and to promote equality of opportunity.”
Supertram operator Stagecoach says it has to act within rules set by the Department for Transport.
Mobility scooter users have to undergo a test to show they can drive their scooters on and off buses before receiving a permit to use on trams – even though they are bigger vehicles with much more space.
Groups representing elderly and disabled people have complained about the change.
Sheffield Pensioners’ Action Group claimed the rules will ‘rob people of their independence’ and pointed out the rules do not apply to train services which often have less room on board them than trams.
South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive said: “There are many different types of mobility scooter and some are too big to bring onto buses or trams as they can cause an obstruction.”