Sunday, November 7, 2010

I hope you leave enough room for my fist...

After making a post about good bus drivers, it sucks that I have to write one about a bad one.

One time, I was heading to the bus stop at UBC Loop. The 44 bus was waiting there, which was perfect since I was heading downtown. I came up to it. The driver was looking straight ahead, preoccupied with something in the distance.

"Excuse me?" I said, trying to get his attention so he can deploy the wheelchair ramp.

"The bus is full," he said, without even looking at me.

I looked at the bus. It was a 60-foot articulated bus. The seats were all taken, but there were only a few standees -- starting from the back, the standees didn't even reach the articulated joint part of the bus. The front part of the bus was devoid of standees. It was NOT full.

"There's plenty of room," I told him.

"The bus is full," he repeated. Again, he didn't even look at me.

Some other passengers were hesitating to get on, unsure of what to do. "Are you getting on?" one of them asked me.

"He said the bus is full."

"It's not full."

"That's what I told him!"

The other passengers, not wanting to miss their bus and not sure what else to do about this, boarded the bus. Some of them told him that I could easily get on. He at least looked at them, but ignored what they said. He then promptly closed the door and drove away.

I was astounded by what just happened. Thankfully there was a transit supervisor on site, at the opposite end of the bus loop. I went up to him and told him what happened. As I did, an off-duty driver came up from behind me. "I saw the whole thing," he said. "There was plenty of room on the bus. He could've easily taken him [which meant me] and a lot of other passengers too."

The supervisor said he would inform the driver when he returns. The off-duty driver's bus wasn't leaving for a while, I guess, and he ensured that I got on the next one. I'm not sure if he was afraid that this incident would make me think badly of the other bus drivers (which would not be something I'd do since it was an individual driver who was the problem), but it was nice of him to do it nonetheless.

After this incident, I was genuinely concerned -- not for me, but for others who might receive the same treatment from this driver. I eventually wrote a letter to Coast Mountain Bus Company about this. I guess they saw it as a serious matter because they had someone call me directly to have a verbal report of the incident (in addition to the written one I sent in).

It was lucky that I was at UBC Loop, where it was a sunny day, where there were many other bus connections available and that I am a capable manual wheelchair user (rather than a power wheelchair user with more limited mobility). I can't imagine if this happened to someone with severe mobility limitations on a late winter night; hopefully this type of incident never happens again.

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