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Stagecoach apologise after bowel operation woman's ordeal on Inverness to Scrabster bus

By Matt Leslie

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An X99 Stagecoach bus.
An X99 Stagecoach bus.

A CAITHNESS woman wearing a stoma bag following a bowel operation has claimed she was denied the use of a toilet on a Stagecoach bus between Inverness and Scrabster.

As the bag needs to be changed upon filling up, she went to the toilet on the 2.15pm X99 service on November 25 to dispose of the contents and attach a new, clean stoma bag to her body.

However, the toilet door was locked with no-one apparently inside the cubicle.

Raising the issue with the driver, she said she received a curt reply and was told to sit back in her seat.

The woman, who has asked not to be named, had to undress in front of her fellow passengers, change the bag and carry the one full to the brim with waste until she reached her destination.

She said: "I recently had a bowel operation and I have to wear these stoma bags in order to let my bowel recover after having that procedure.

"Because each bag can only hold so much waste, I have to undress and change it for a clean one. It is something which requires some privacy – which I thought I would have in the Stagecoach bus toilet.

"I had changed it prior to going on the bus but, nature being as it is, the bag filled up during the journey.

"I went to the toilet, saw it was locked and after checking to see if someone was in it – there wasn't – I went to speak to the driver.

"He rudely replied: 'It is just locked – there's a comfort break at Tain.' No reason was given for why it was locked.

"As the bag was full and needed changing immediately, I could not wait for the bus to get to Tain and had to undress in front of the other passengers and change stoma bags there and then.

"I was also left carrying this other bag full of human waste and could only dispose of it when we got to Tain.

"When it was time for me to get off at another stop to catch a connecting bus service, I again asked the driver why the toilet was locked. Again he rudely replied: 'It is just locked.'"

A spokesperson for Stagecoach in the Highlands said: "We are extremely sorry to hear of the experience this customer had on November 25 when travelling on one of our services.

"This is not the experience we aim to provide in the Highlands. We would like to carry out a full investigation to the circumstances and will be working with this customer to resolve this complaint."

The woman has since received an email from Stagecoach's operations manager John Gunn.

In it he wrote: "I am sorry to have heard of your experience when travelling on our service. On investigation I can confirm the toilet was in full working order when the bus departed Inverness.

"We know how important these facilities are on this route and our bus station supervisor always checks the X99 bus before it pulls up to the stand to load customers. We had our engineers check this bus the following day and they confirmed the locking mechanism had jammed.

"Our engineers have since repaired the mechanism on the door and we removed the bus from service until it was repaired.

"In the past 12 months we have also scheduled a comfort break at Dornoch and Lybster when the public toilets are available for those who do not wish to use the facilities on board the bus to be able to use the public toilets.

"I'm sorry that this alternative on this occasion was not suitable for your needs.

"I can only apologise that on this occasion the service we provided was less than satisfactory.

"I have spoken with the driver of the bus and I know that this will be handled differently in future should there be a problem with any of the on-board facilities."

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