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Accessible Algarve

Accessible Buses in Lagos?

The local bus service in Lagos is named A Onda or translated the Wave. There are ten lines each having its own color. When Constance and I first visited Lagos in 2011 we were very happy to use the local buses to explore the area. We got a bus card that could be topped up with journeys and visted local beaches and nearby villages. We did note that the service did not run very late into the evenings, exept in July and August. All in all the A Onda is a very good bus service.

When we moved to Lagos permanently  in 2013 Constance had begun to develop mobilty issues. One of the factors in our decison to move here was that the buses were accessible to people with reduced mobilty, each bus fitted with a ramp to bring a wheelchair on board.

Our first home here in 2013 was on the outskirts of Lagos in Chinicato, we both got monthly bus passes and used the Aonda service frequently for everything, including trips to the supermarket, the health center, the historic center to peform and listen to music, going out for lunch and to enjoy the beaches.  At this point Constance could still walk but was using a cane, she was able to board and exit the bus by herself.

In 2014 we moved into Lagos, shortly after Constances mobility was reduced and she now needs a wheelchair or a moblity scooter to get around, the accessibility of the buses became very important to her quality of life.

In the summer 2015 we were coming home from the historic center after a dinner out with friends, we all went catch the evening bus home and when it arrived the electronics on the ramp failed so Constance was unable to board the bus.  The driver told us the ramp and been broken for a while and that ramps on other buses in the fleet were also broken.  We were lucky that night, another bus came along later with a working ramp.

We filed a complaint with the bus company (then Futurlagos) and did not recieve an answer, nor was anything done to resolve the problem. We also raised the issue with the city council at a budget meeting. It was only on the second time of asking at a meeting with then vice president of the city council Hugo Pereira in 2017 that changes were made. Now all of the buses are fitted with ramps that can be opened manually.

Fast forward to July 2021 we went to Luz on the bus, while trying to board the manual ramp was stuck, the driver had to use his keys to pry the mechanism open, nonetheless problem solved we were able to enter the bus and enjoy our visit to Luz

In August Constance and I went to Praia Porto do Mos on the bus, the driver on the way there was very helpful, professional and considerate, being careful to park the bus correctly to enable easy boarding and exiting from the bus. 

On the way back the driver parked so that the ramp did not match up evenly on the pavement making it impossible to board safely with the wheelchair. When we politely asked the driver to move the bus he was rude and hostile and he moved the bus where a pole was in the way, when we pointed that out he insisted we try to board even though we felt it was unsafe, sure enough on the way up the ramp Constance scrapped her leg on the pole causing a small cut. Before our stop to get off a new bus driver took over to start his shift.  When we got to our stop the ramp was stuck the driver then tried to open it with his keys when this did not work he just shrugeed his shoulders with Constance still unable to leave the bus, I then tried to open the ramp and it finally opened and Constance was able to exit the bus.

That evening we made contemporaneous notes and went to the Aonda website to file a complaint with the purpose of pointing out and correcting these problems. There is nowhere on the website to file a complaint. Almost laughably the website has an anuual report posted from 2019 on the site, which upon reading says there were eight compaints in that year. We wonder would there be more if there was actuallly a place to complain.  With that in mind on August 5th Constance sent an email to the Lagos City council asking where to file a complaint with A Onda, that email has gone unanswered. On October 8th we filed the complaint regarding these incidents with the city council and to date have not recieved an answer.

A similar incident involving a ramp failing happened on a recent visit to Porto using the STCP bus system. The difference in responses to our complaint could have been more different, firstly the STCP site has an easy to find place to complain and we got an apology a case number and a thorough response within four working days.

We can understand that occasionally equipment can malfunction, but when concerns are raised by passengers they should be taken seriously.  The lack of response from the city of Lagos is very difficult to understand and is unacceptable.

In the complaint we make positive suggestions, including a daily check of each bus to ensure the ramps are in good working order, that proper tools are issued to each driver to open the ramps if they get stuck, and that sensitivity training be given to drivers in how to better assist passengers with reduced mobilty and disabilities. The safe and autonomous access to the bus should not have to depend on which employee is driving the bus that day.

In addition to the safety issues involved Constance has told me and I have felt for her the humilaition that comes when there is difficulty using public transport; other passengers often look on in horror, some are impatient, most are very helpful but don't neccessarily know how to help. It should be the responsibility of the transportation system to bring these safety risks and incidents of humiliation to an absolute minimum. All people should be guaranteed safe and equal access to the bus system in Lagos.

A Onda website http://www.aonda.pt

 

 

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