Nick Malpas relies on a three-wheeled mobility scooter to get around, and until recently he was happily catching buses in Hobart.
That stopped in July when he was told Tasmania’s public transport operator, Metro Tasmania, did not allow three-wheeled scooters on board, unless they were stowed in luggage racks, according to a policy that had been introduced more than six years ago.
Mr Malpas said he rang Metro about three years ago, before buying his scooter, to check it complied with the rules, and was told it did.
“I’ve been using the scooter for two-and-a-half years and it’s only just come up as an issue,” he said.
“I would have gotten a different scooter if I’d known about this … I wouldn’t have spent $3,000 on a scooter that I now can’t take on the bus.”
“In New South Wales you can’t take a three-wheeled scooter on a bus, but you can take it on the trains … and the trams,” Mr Malpas said.
“I think it’s particularly pressing that Metro Tas work out a way that all common mobility aids can be taken on buses since that’s our only [public] transport option [in Tasmania],” he said.
Mr Malpas said he could easily move around his neighbourhood, but not being able to catch the bus meant it was difficult for him to travel into central Hobart.
“It means that it’s very difficult for me to get into medical appointments, to go to government services, to go shopping if I need to get anything in the city, and it’s also just very socially isolating,” he said.
A Metro Tasmania spokesman said “three-wheeled mobility aids of any kind are unstable when on board and will not be carried because they are a safety risk to all passengers on board”, a rule that he said had been in place for more than six years.
New South Wales is the only other state that has a blanket ban on three-wheeled scooters on buses.
He wants to see a focus on making buses accessible.
“What we really need is some form of consistency throughout Australia and for Metro and the Department of State Growth … to get together to work out a way in which we can be consistent,” he said.
Source: ABC News