Bus travel gives Dundee woman new-found freedom

Despite living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and severe walking difficulties, Belinda Lowe, 50 from Dundee, has been able to regain her independence further afield thanks to the support of National Express Dundee and a TGA Eclipse mobility scooter.

Before having to take early retirement due to health issues, Belinda was a lively and integral part of the local NAAFI organisation. The Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) is an organisation created by the British government in 1921 to run recreational establishments needed by the British Armed Forces. Belinda managed NAAFI clubs, bars and mess halls in Scotland and Northern Ireland until her condition restricted her ability to work.

Recently Belinda’s mobility has become so restricted that she now needs a mobility scooter to remain mobile outside of the home. Her chosen compact Eclipse model from TGA has given her freedom locally, however travelling further afield independently was not possible. As Belinda and her husband do not have a car public transport is their only option, however travelling this way on her own seemed out of the question – that was until she contacted National Express Dundee. The bus operator offered advice over the telephone and then dispatched an accessible double decker bus to her home so she could test embarkation safely with a qualified driver on hand.

National Express Dundee were more than delighted to help Belinda as her TGA Eclipse scooter is recognised as officially meeting the criteria for transit on a bus. It has a tight turning circle, compact chassis and is easily manoeuvrable – all parameters required for certain operators to accept a scooter onto their fleet of buses.

Belinda explains: “Living with a degenerative condition such as MS can be tough, especially when you have to give up your job and hobbies. I have learnt to remain positive throughout and this recent extra freedom I can now enjoy is the best. The fact that National Express Dundee were prepared to send a double decker bus to my home so I could try out getting on and off with my Eclipse was fantastic. TGA’s Harry Reed came along too so he could ensure I gained confidence using my Eclipse over the ramps and learnt how to park appropriately when onboard.”

Belinda concludes: “Now I can once again go into Dundee on my own shopping and even though playing crown green bowls is a thing of the past, at least I can go and watch my friends compete at the Logie Club. TGA and National Express Dundee are two companies that have gone the extra mile for me. I hope my experiences encourage other people with scooters to try and access local transport as the ability to travel independently away from home is such a great feeling.”

Managing Director of National Express Dundee Elsie Turbyne said: “I’m very happy to know that our team and our services have helped Belinda regain her independence.  We’ve been operating a mobility scooter service for several years now and I’m glad to say we’ve helped quite a number of people in Dundee to use their vehicles on board our buses. 

“Everybody should have access to public transport services, regardless of their ability, and we’re doing our best to ensure that happens on our buses.  I hope Belinda’s story encourages others to get out and about on the bus with their mobility scooters too.” 

Anyone wishing to benefit from a mobility scooter pass on National Express Dundee services should contact the company on 01382 201121 for more information or free training.

Published 17th August 2015