Bus company ordered to pay disabled woman for barring entry

Court rules bus drivers’ refusal to allow wheelchair bound lady access several times was illegal; Metrodan to pay NIS 50,000 in damages.

wheelchair travel 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
wheelchair travel 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A wheelchair-bound woman is to receive NIS 50,000 in damages from the Metrodan Public Transport Company, after the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court ruled last week that the bus drivers’ refusal to allow her access several times was illegal, the National Commission for People with Disabilities announced on Monday.
According to the information provided by the Justice Ministry, which oversees the commission, wheelchair-bound Efrat Vaknin turned to the commission last year after being refused access several times to public buses run by Metrodan around Beersheba.
Working on the basis of a 1998 law demanding equal treatment of people with disabilities in all spheres of Israeli society, the commission submitted a petition to the court pointing out Vaknin’s right to accessibility on public city buses.
As part of its compromise with Vaknin, the company agreed to award her NIS 50,000. In addition, the bus company, which advertises wheelchair accessibility on its website, also committed to improving its services for people with disabilities, and to providing ongoing training to bus drivers on how to improve its work with this group of people.
The company also said it would follow up to ensure that drivers treat people with disabilities better.

Ahiya Kamara, the Justice Ministry’s commissioner for Equal Rights of People with Disabilities, said: “Most city buses in Israel are already accessible to people in wheelchairs. Many times, however, the barriers are created by the bus drivers themselves who have to open the doors for the people with disabilities, and allow them to use public transport like everyone else.”
“This ruling is very important because it will have an impact on other public bus drivers, and raise awareness among the public to include people with disabilities into every area of life,” Kamara said.