Joan (67) and retired school caretaker Fred Blois (72) from Heathfield, East Sussex, have recently discovered greater freedom thanks to ownership of two folding, bus-friendly TGA mobility scooters and the support of Stagecoach South East.
Mr and Mrs Blois are a lovely couple who are both new owners of a pioneering type of folding mobility scooter a TGA Minimo Plus. As they both struggle with walking and general mobility, these new scooters will ensure they remain independent and have the ability to travel on public transport. This is essential as Fred is struggling to drive and they live in a rural area with limited amenities nearby. Joan read about the new lightweight Minimo Plus and felt it would be ideal for both their needs however it was important to check it would be suitable for bus travel before purchase. Hence she contacted her local bus operator, Stagecoach, to ascertain whether this scooter would be permitted to travel and how she could test its suitability. Stagecoach invited her down to the Eastbourne Depot and with the support of a TGA representative present, Joan and Fred where able to test drive and take a brief safety assessment in and around a whole bus.
Joan says: 'TGA and Stagecoach have been so helpful to my husband and I. The fact that Shaun from TGA brought a Minimo Plus down to the Eastbourne bus depot so we could try it on and off a bus was fantastic. Richard at Stagecoach was also excellent as he showed us the safe way to get onboard using the ramp and how to park it inside. We also tried folding up the scooter outside of the bus and then wheeling it on which was just as easy - it folded up like a pushchair. I didn't want to buy a scooter that wouldn't be suitable for bus travel otherwise we were going to be stuck in our local area. We do have two other bigger mobility scooters but they do not fit in the car or on a bus. As we will probably not be driving our car soon both having a Minimo Plus is going to be vital for us to reach the coast.'
Stagecoach South East is an environmentally friendly bus service that operates across East Kent and East Sussex with services extending to Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone in West Kent. As part of its commitment to accessibility, Stagecoach adheres to The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Code of Practice regarding mobility scooter carriage. Scooter users who own a suitable model, such as the TGA Minimo Plus, are allowed to travel on buses however they are required to complete basic training in entering and exiting buses safely. On completion of this, they are granted a credit card sized permit, which will guarantee them carriage on Stagecoach buses and the other five operators nationally that have signed up to the Code.
The TGA Minimo scooter has been specifically designed to conform to the CPT Code of Practice aimed at regularizing the carriage of mobility scooters on buses. Its compact size, low weight and tight turning circle are all deemed suitable for use on a bus. If a rider is able to transfer into a bus seat, then the scooter can be folded up in seconds and easily stored in the luggage area so internal space and gangways are not compromised.
Joan concludes: 'We both haven't had our Minimo Plus scooters very long but we are really pleased with them, they look lovely. They are more substantial than other folding scooters we have seen and it is great to know they will also fit in a taxi if we decide not to take the bus. Thank you TGA and Stagecoach for giving us the confidence to travel on the bus so we can keep visiting and enjoying Eastbourne in the future.'