An Intercity bus passenger with two broken arms says a bus driver ordered him to lift his bag to the overhead storage despite his visible disability.

Intercity says the bus driver denies the passengers claims.

Alex Henderson was wearing a sling on one arm and a brace on the other when he boarded the bus from Auckland to Hamilton on April 7.

He had recently had surgery after a cycling accident on March 20, where he broke both his arms.


Henderson said he had to take Tramadol, a pain medication, before getting on the bus, so he quickly gulped it down with a drink of milk as the drug is not supposed to be taken on an empty stomach.

He then packed his food and drink into his backpack and boarded the bus.

Henderson said the driver then approached him, telling him food and drink were not allowed to be consumed on the bus, and "ordered" him to lift his backpack into the overhead luggage rack.

"He can quite clearly see I'm disabled," he said.

Henderson quietly complied, despite earlier instructions from doctors not to lift objects above head height due to his injuries.

Opening a taxi door or a can of fruit is "a mission" at the moment, he said.

He did not tell the bus driver about his doctors' instructions as he did not do well with confrontation, but did say he wanted the name of the bus driver so he could lay a complaint.

The bus driver then introduced himself over the PA as "Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu," which is the longest Maori place name in New Zealand.

The incident left Henderson feeling embarrassed and stressed.

After the cycling accident he said he was finally "willing to jump out of bed and take on the world again", and had got on the bus to visit his mother for her 90th birthday.

The incident on the bus had left him feeling "devalued as a customer".

"I've got a right to be treated with respect as everyone else has," he said.

Digital and brand general manager for Intercity, Daniel Rode, said they had spoken to the driver and "unfortunately the stories differ".

"Our driver states he did not order Mr Henderson to put his bag overhead, and does not recall him saying that he was unable to lift his bag or asking for assistance," Rode said.

"Many of our drivers choose to deliver a personalised introduction at the start of their services, and this particular driver's speech includes introducing himself as 'Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu' [the longest place name in New Zealand] - after which he immediately makes it clear that he is joking, and provides his actual Maori name.

"When Mr Henderson contacted us to raise concerns about his experience, our customer service team responded with an apology and advised that our operations team would investigate the alleged incident.

"As a goodwill gesture Mr Henderson was also provided with a gift voucher to the value of $20 [the cost of his fare]. Mr Henderson advised that this was not adequate and requested $95 compensation and a personal mediation with our driver or he would take the matter further.

"We pride ourselves on operating a friendly and welcoming service and are sorry if Mr Henderson feels we fell short of these standards."

Henderson disagreed that the driver did not order him to put the bag overhead, and said the driver was "just trying to cover himself".

In an email response to Intercity, he said he wanted an additional $95 payment and mediation with the driver, in which the driver would apologise in person.

"Is my dignity, and welfare as a vulnerable passenger who obviously needs to be treated with compassion worth $20? To offer this to a teenager may mean something. However, I am a teaching professional and photographer and offering me $20 is not adequate and to be honest, trivialising the matter," he wrote.

Henderson told the Herald he was "disappointed" with Intercity's response.