Blind woman hits out at 'appalling' treatment of her and her guide dog by Arriva bus driver in Milton Keynes

Arriva bus company bosses are urgently investigating a complaint from a blind woman about alleged terrible treatment by one of their drivers.

By Sally Murrer
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 1:30 pm

Elaine Maries and her guide dog Inca tried to catch the number three bus from Central Milton Keynes to Magna Park.

They waited more than an hour for the bus to arrive at The Point – but when it arrived the driver said the dog was not allowed to board, says Elaine.

"When I stepped on to the bus I was told by the driver I could not travel on the bus because of my guide dog,” she said.

Elaine Maries was refused entry on a bus with her guide dog in Milton Keynes

“He also said that because the bus before had not turned up, he was giving priority to passengers travelling to Magna Park and Amazon. So I was asked to get off the bus. As I am stubborn I refused to get off. I reminded the driver he was breaking the law.”

But Elaine claims the driver then shouted at her to leave the bus.

"I replied if you want me to get off then call the police. I stood my ground,” she said.

The bus then drove off, with Elaine and Inca on board. But when the pair went to get off at their usual stop, the driver allegedly deliberately went on to the next before mocking her.

Elaine Maries and her guide dog

Elaine added: "The driver refused to stop. He went to the next stop. Then he laughed and said ‘find your way home now’… I feel this is disgusting behaviour,” said Elaine.

“On arriving home after a longer than usual walk. I immediately contacted Arriva and lodged a complaint. I was told I would be contacted within 10 days.”

The incident happened on July 6. But Elaine says she has still heard nothing from Arriva about the status of her complaint.

“This week I have contacted them again to be told it has been investigated but they are unable to tell me the outcome off this investigation, and they are sorry this happened,” she said.

The Guide Dogs charity is running a campaign called Open Doors

"If people are not to be told the outcome off investigations what is the point off having a complaints department...I was clearly discriminated against on this day, yet Arriva seem to think this behaviour is alright.”

The Citizen contacted Arriva and a spokesman told us: “We’re continuing to investigate this serious allegation, as a matter of urgency, with the depot team. Until this has concluded we’re unable to comment further on this incident.”

Elaine’s story coincides with a new campaign called Open Door from the Guide Dogs charity.The campaign highlights how 79% of guide dog owners nationally have been denied access to shops, restaurants and taxis – and incidents are on the increase.

A charity spokesman said: “Guide dog owners continue to face access refusals from businesses and services including cafés, shops, and taxis because they are accompanied by their guide dog – despite this almost always being illegal.

“Access refusals can have a negative impact on people’s confidence and their lives. That's why we’re working to open doors for guide dogs. We’re educating businesses on the law and campaigning for government to strengthen it.”