A disabled university student has had a rude welcoming to the Illawarra which has also left her terrified of using public buses.
First year student Rubaiya Islam, 20, followed her family to Australia to study at the University of Wollongong two weeks ago, and has been learning how to navigate the city with her electric wheelchair.
She was excited to be in a city with plenty of opportunity for people with disabilities, but on the weekend the Bachelor of Arts student feared she could have been seriously injured after her "safety was compromised" on a Gong Shuttle bus from UOW.
"[The driver] didn't lower down the bus [for the ramp to fit on the kerb] and I almost flipped, and my brother caught me, I was really scared," Rubaiya told the Mercury.
Both Rubaiya and her brother Shadlee Islam claim the driver of the Premier Bus service then sped off before they had stopped moving to their place and caused the wheelchair to move, proving again quite scary.
Shadlee said he then asked the driver to please more attention to people needing assistance on the bus and told him he needed to lower the bus for wheelchairs, but the discussion became heated, he said.
Apparently the driver was "aggressive, rude and abusive" and said it was "too time consuming" to lower the bus, and if they didn't like it they could get off.
"It was really heartbreaking," Rubaiya said. "I'm really scared to get on the bus from now; luckily I had my brother who helped ... it's really hard for me to go out alone and travel alone now."
It was really heartbreaking. I'm really scared to get on the bus from now; luckily I had my brother who helped ... it's really hard for me to go out alone and travel alone now.- Rubaiya Islam
Another UOW student (who wished to remain anonymous) told the Mercury they caught that bus regularly and "never felt comfortable" with the driver in question.
"It feels like he's in a rush all the time," he said. "It's like you're on a rollercoaster ride when that person is driving."
Shadlee said he tried to make a complaint to Premier Illawarra, though was instead transferred directly through to Transport for NSW (who contract the service).
A spokeswoman for Transport for NSW said Premier had "commenced an investigation" into the incident as in-house training should equip drivers with knowledge and skills on how to appropriately interact with customers of all abilities.
"Drivers are to ensure they are in the correct position with wheelchair brakes applied prior to departing the bus stop," the spokeswoman said.
"Drivers should also enquire as to where the customer is travelling so they can prepare for when the customer needs to disembark the service.
"When a complaint is logged in the complaints system, the operator is required to respond within two business days."
Rubaiya said her other bus experiences had involved friendly and obliging drivers ready to help her, while the general public had been heartwarming too with many offers to help her on her travels to university.