A former soldier who lost his arm in Northern Ireland was upset and embarrassed when a bus driver accused him and his wife of ‘abusing the system’.
Axel Taylor, 47, says he was shocked when the Stagecoach bus driver ‘bad-mouthed’ him as he travelled from Terminus Road to his home in Willingdon Trees on Sunday (January 4).
Axel told the Herald he was travelling on the 1a bus with wife Lynne Taylor and the pair were using Axel’s disabled bus pass.
The pass allows Axel to have someone travelling with him but when Lynne got off at an earlier stop and left Axel on the bus, the driver is alleged to have accused the pair of ‘abusing the system’ and ‘trying to get something for free’.
Axel, who had his arm amputated in 1989 when he was serving in the army in Londonderry, said he finds it difficult to leave the house.
He said, “I suffer from anxiety and post traumatic stress syndrome so going out, especially on public transport, can be really difficult for me.
“On top of that, December is always a very difficult month for me because it marks the anniversary that my arm was amputated.
“This bus driver really upset me at what is already a difficult time of year. “
Axel told the Herald he tried to explain to the driver that he and his wife were not breaking any rules and that she was entitled to a free bus ride if she was travelling with him, but he says the driver wouldn’t listen.
Axel said, “His attitude sucked.
“I told him this is far from free – I served in the army and lost my arm – but he just carried on ripping in to me.
“He didn’t believe I was a soldier and then when I got off the bus he was bad-mouthing me to the other passengers and I could see him sat there for ages talking about me as I walked away and into my home.”
Axel says the bus pass is useful because he often needs some help with shopping around town, but explained his home is only feet away from the bus stop so he is more than capable of getting the bus on his own.
Axel said he phoned Stagecoach and complained to the bus company, which operates the town’s bus network.
He said, “They told me that my wife was entitled to travel with me free of charge and was allowed to get off at an earlier stop.
“This bus driver should not have spoken to me the way he did. I was so shocked and upset.
“This has put me off going out.”
A spokesperson from Stagecoach agreed the driver of the bus could have handled the situation better.
The spokesperson said, “We believe there has been some misunderstanding over the terms and conditions for use of the companion pass but do think that our driver could have handled the situation better.
“We are very sorry for any upset this has caused Mr Taylor and will make sure there is no repeat of this.”