A teenager was left out in the cold this Christmas after a bus driver refused to let her back on a bus – despite having paid a full fare for the journey.
Natalie Turner, of Kirkby Drive, Ripon, was travelling on the 36 bus from Ripon to Harrogate to visit a friend on December 13, when she had to get off the bus for medical reasons.
Miss Turner explained she was ill to the driver and needed to leave the bus in Ripley to use the public toilet.
Despite holding a valid £4.80 bus ticket, the bus driver told her she would not be allowed back on the bus or on the next bus if she left to use the toilet –so the 19-year-old student had no choice but to walk along the dark rural route to Harrogate in minus two degrees.
Miss Turner’s mum Vikki, 46, said she is “appalled at the blatant disregard for a young girl, travelling alone, in extreme temperatures in the dark along a lonely road.”
Mrs Turner, a nurse for a GP practice in Ripon, told the Gazette: “Natalie didn’t have any cash on her and was only wearing a short skirt with tights and a leather jacket instead of a coat. She asked another bus driver at Killinghall if she could get on the bus there after explaining the situation and saying how desperate she was. She still wasn’t allowed on the bus.
“By this point she was freezing cold, exhausted and extremely distressed. It’s absolutely appalling. I wouldn’t dream of walking alone along that dark and lonely stretch alone. It’s not rocket science to have a system in place where drivers communicate with each other. God forbid what could have happened to her.”
The 36 bus company have now launched an investigation about the incident and are monitoring CCTV footage from 3.10-5.30pm, during which time Miss Turner boarded the first bus, allegedly tried to board a second bus and walked to Harrogate town centre.
In a letter of complaint to the bus company, Miss Turner said: “If she had come to harm, I would have held your company fully responsible. It is a disgusting breach of your customer service code.”
A Transdev Harrogate and District Travel spokesman, which runs the 36 service, said CCTV footage only shows Miss Turner boarding the first bus, but not the second. Two drivers are being interviewed as part of the ongoing investigation. A spokesman said: “The safety of our customers is of prime importance in whatever we do.”