An autistic teen who became stranded in the city centre when a bus driver wrongly confiscated her disabled pass says she was left ‘traumatised’ – and insists lessons must be learned.
Quiama Smith, 16, who did not have any money to buy a ticket either, said she was left ‘confused and scared’ after her ordeal on Tuesday, December 15.
The Hillsborough College student said the driver did not believe her pass was genuine, so confiscated it and would not let her on-board.
While driver’s do have the right to do this, they must give disabled users a temporary pass while the bus company investigates.
However, the driver did not adhere to this policy.
Quiama, of Gleadless, who was on her way home from college, said: “I was traumatised and scared by what happened. I was so upset I went straight to bed when I got home thinking ‘how could this happen?’. I just hope bus drivers will learn.”
Mum Shirley Edward-Smith said she got a panicked call from her daughter around 5pm.
Shirley said: “She was just crying saying ‘the bus driver’s taken my pass’ and ‘I don’t know what’s happening’.
“I was furious with the driver. She had other identification he could have checked and even if he wasn’t convinced he should have given her a temporary pass so she could have got home.
“It was dark, winter and autistic children cannot cope with situations like this.”
Shirley transferred money into her daughters account and booked her a taxi home.
She added: “Nobody at First has even apologised to her either and we have tried to get an apology.
“It’s disgraceful. This is not the first time an autistic child has been left stranded because driver’s do not know enough about disabilities.”
Quima – who was attempting to board the 93 bus from Castle Gate bus stop – had her pass returned the following day.
A spokesman for First, who operate the service, said: “I’m very sorry to hear about the difficulties Quiama experienced...
“We’re now investigating the incident to understand how this occurred and we will put in place any learnings that we identify and keep Mrs Edward-Smith updated.
“Our driver training covers a comprehensive programme on disability awareness but we’re always pleased to introduce changes to make improvements to the programme or address [issues].”