Pregnant mum told to get off Belfast bus and walk as driver had finished shift
An architect has told of his fury after his pregnant wife was forced off a bus and had to complete a 25-minute walk uphill in freezing weather after the route was cut short.
John Donnelly's wife Nicola (36), who is expecting their second child, got on the 7A at the Great Northern Mall stop in Belfast at 17.54 for a service to Fourwinds on January 27.
At Forestside, the driver began to turn back towards the city because his shift had finished 10 minutes prior to reaching the final destination.
The revelation comes just one day after Translink apologised following a separate incident involving another pregnant woman who was told to get off a bus in the snow because she didn't have change of a tenner.
Mr Donnelly (36) said that when his wife, who is also an architect, asked why they were stopping short of the final destination that Wednesday, she was told that the bus only went as far as Forestside.
"It was a miserable, dark, cold winter's evening," he said. "My wife was the only person on the bus when the driver began to turn back towards the city rather than proceeding along the scheduled route.
"Although she had a ticket to prove the bus was supposed to go to Fourwinds, Nicola was told it was only going as far as Forestside and that she'd have to get off and walk the rest of the way.
"She was extremely annoyed by what happened. It's a steep area and parts of it are sheer hill so it was quite a climb for her, lasting 25 minutes. She is four months pregnant. Her energy levels are low and it would have been nice to get dropped off at the destination she paid for."
Translink apologised to the Donnellys but said it must adhere to strict EU guidelines and had the driver continued on the intended route he would have worked 10 extra minutes.
In an email to Mr Donnelly the company said it had "completed its investigations into this matter".
"The 7A bus which your wife travelled on was to have been the 17.45 departure from the city centre," it read. However the driver was running almost 10 minutes late, from his previous operations. This was the last run on the driver's duty board and had he completed it, he would have exceeded his duty finishing time.
"Rather than the entire journey having been lost, the driver was instructed to operate to Forestside only.
"As you can appreciate, we as a company must adhere to strict guidelines as outlined within EU regulations for the maximum permitted hours our drivers are allowed to drive for, before they are required to take a mandatory break. Furthermore, a driver cannot go over the finishing time of their individual duty."
The Belfast couple, who have a two-year-old daughter, said they were unhappy with Translink's response.
"It's totally unacceptable," John said. "Blaming it on EU regulations is a cop out as far as we're concerned. "
Translink recently apologised to Amie Patterson (18), who is seven months pregnant, after she was told to get off a bus for not having change.