According to current figures, the average English woman measures 1.62 meters, which is 13 centimeters shorter than Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, but ten centimeters taller than Manchester bus driver Tracy Scholes. The height of 40-year-old Duchess Kate has not been an issue in England until recently, but the height of 57-year-old Tracy Scholes is. On Tuesday afternoon, protesters wanted to gather near the local bus operator in Manchester due to Scholes and his 1.52 meters.
A few weeks ago it became public that the company Go North West, which has been operating public bus services in Manchester since 2019, terminated Scholes because it was too small to safely run the new buses. British media are constantly reporting on personal fortunes large and small somewhere in the state, and the Tracy Scholes story was initially one of those local antics that would soon be drowned in a sea of stories. But then some celebrities found out about it, for example the actors of the popular series “Coronation Street”, and campaigned for Tracy Scholes on social platforms. In 1987 she was the region’s first female bus driver, and a widow with three children would be kicked out 34 years later because of her height: a scandal, right?
Support for Scholes grew, a petition was launched, 25,000 people signed it, and outrage grew. The company’s friendly spokesman said a bit ironically by phone on Tuesday that he was also “flattering” interest in the international media.
She was the only one who complained, says spokesperson
The company is one of five large companies operating a large-scale privatized public bus service in the UK. Especially outside London, bus transport is always a political issue, after all, the state only controls routes and prices in London. The rest of the country is often more about business than basic services, and many companies have long believed that exterior mirrors, for example, reduce profits. British cities have many narrow streets, which is why it is not uncommon for winged glass buses to get stuck. To minimize damage, Manchester has had a program for years in which the protruding exterior mirrors are replaced with new mirrors integrated into the bus. Last year it was also the turn of buses that Tracy Scholes ran 25 hours a week.
A company spokesperson says at least two other bus drivers in Manchester are Scholes tall, but only complained that the new mirrors made him sit back so he couldn’t reach the pedals. She was offered several other options wherein she could start her route in the morning at the bus station, where she could choose the bus suitable for herself. She declined due to unfavorable working hours, so she was offered a job as a school bus driver with equal pay. Only: School buses don’t run 25 hours a week, so Scholes would have had to accept an actual cut in his pay. Frustrated Tracy Scholes told the BBC: “Loyalty no longer counts.” “I’m being punished and I can’t help it.”
She also used to clean the buses, the main thing being that she keeps her job, Scholes said. Bus cleaning? The spokesperson did not wish to comment, but one can assume that unions, which have long been active in the Scholes case, would not have responded enthusiastically to such a proposal. In the end, there was no other option but to terminate the employment relationship, the spokesperson prepared. There is probably no happy ending in this story, this initial conflict in society, big versus small.
On Tuesday, the two sides met again at the company’s headquarters in Manchester to discuss the matter, with both sides initially not wanting to say anything. The notice period ends on February 5.