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Thread: The bus driver tried to tell me I had to get out of my wheelchair to get on the bus...

  1. #1

    The bus driver tried to tell me I had to get out of my wheelchair to get on the bus...

    My city has two separately owned bus companies that serve different areas, one of which is fully accessible, the other I've been fighting with for over a year. At first they told me they don't take wheelchairs, because their lines aren't designated as 24-7 accessible, even though I could get on no issues. A few calls to management fixed that, though on the condition that I can get on with no help. Fine. I've been managing. So even if half the busses HAVE a working ramp designed for wheelchairs, drivers have gotten in trouble for using it, they're not allowed. Why? I was given a vague reason that it's a legal thing, or maybe that they don't want to give people the impression that it is fully accessible 24-7, depending on which manager you talk to. Fine, I managed. Then came the ''you can't sit on the bus in your wheelchair, it's a safety issue'' rule. Okay. Sit on the bus seat and fall over on people when it moves because the seats face the side of the bus, not to the front. Oh and take 2 seats instead of one because I have to. I sucked it up and managed. But this winter has been rough, I can't stand and wobble in, pulling my wheelchair in, or sit on the floor in the snow and salt and lug it over my head. So I learned to ''wheelie'' up the bus, popping my front wheels an inch or two up, grabbing on bars and pulling myself up. And then back down. Worked beautifully, was so happy. Most drivers didn't mind, actually thought it was smart, it saved time for everyone and I didn't have 10 people freaking about how I'm about to fall on my face.

    Then tonight a driver tries to deny me on the bus. I get on anyway in 3 seconds I'd been waiting half hour and was frozen (told him he could call his supervisor, that they were aware and told me I could get on no issues). Then he tries to tell me that the ''rules'' say that I have to get out of my wheelchair to get on the bus, because it's a safety issue if I fall. I told him ''as opposed to what!? Falling on my face trying to stand up instead of safely falling in my wheelchair (which I never do)?'' Oh another new rule that makes zero sense! I am no more (if not less) dangerous than a stroller, a person on crutches or whatever. I don't even know what to say to that!!!!

    So what now? I call management again? They've tried to argue all along well, just take para transit (which is absolutely unreliable and a nightmare...). I get a gut feeling that it's sort of discriminatory but they give me the impression that their ''rules'' trump my rights to take the bus. I don't know what their rules are based on, no one can tell me. If it's a government transport law, then I could end up forced to take para transit (and lose my ability to get to work, see people, yknow). If it's a company policy then I suppose it could be fought as discriminatory? I'm so tired of this stuff!

    I was thinking to go to the newspapers, it's been successful by a deaf lady who was denied on because of her service dog in the past. But they just make it sound so that I'm worried I'm going to end up forced to take paratransit or not allowed on the bus at all if their rules are actually based on something legit.

    Ideas? How do I handle this? I hope I'm worrying for nothing but this is not the time of year (or weather) to worry about whether or not the next bus driver is going to give me the option to sit in a puddle on the floor to get on or being left at the curb...and more than anything, I feel insulted, almost violated that someone, either a driver, or a company can decide how *I* can safety use a public service that I pay for (and that I have no other choice but to use). I understand the safety aspect but really, it's more risky to roll down a sidewalk than it is to get on those buses. I won't break the bus either, I weigh 95 lbs, if 200 lbs people can pull themselves up on those bars designed to be pulled on, I sure won't break em'! I've done everything I could to abide by their ''rules'' but this last one takes the prize, all I want is to take the bus! Which I can do perfectly fine and pay for!!! I could probably write this into an article for the onion, as ridiculous as it all sounds...

  2. #2
    Don't have a clue of the laws in Canada about this, but in the USA, this would be an ADA violation and you could file a complaint with the DOT. Do you have any local disability advocacy groups (like an Independent Living Center or Canadian Paraplegia Association) you could talk to?? Might take something like a class action suit to get the full access you should be entitled to.

    (KLD)

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    Sounds like an insurance issue to me. I agree with KLD about working as a group with others denied access. First try and find out who pays for this bus service. If all money comes from a government agency in your province or country and not a local town or city you should have an easier time working with your version of the Department of Transportation. If it is local than you may need that class action suit from the start. Start by following the money.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by SCI-Nurse View Post
    Don't have a clue of the laws in Canada about this, but in the USA, this would be an ADA violation and you could file a complaint with the DOT. Do you have any local disability advocacy groups (like an Independent Living Center or Canadian Paraplegia Association) you could talk to?? Might take something like a class action suit to get the full access you should be entitled to.

    (KLD)
    Thanks! Both bus companies cross back and forth between provinces (cross the river and you have a whole different bunch of laws). Ontario has an SCI and other other general disability groups (coincidentally the side of town that has everything accessible and curb cuts exist there too) and their provincial laws are pretty good. The other bus service belongs to Quebec, which has no disability group that thrive, and has different provincial laws so, I should look into that. It's almost as if it's a different country...but both companies go between the two, not sure which rules apply - rules are different from one bus stop to the other, 100 ft apart in the same province. What a headache! I will ask the human rights peeps I used to work with at the University, they may have a better idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Pendleton View Post
    Sounds like an insurance issue to me. I agree with KLD about working as a group with others denied access. First try and find out who pays for this bus service. If all money comes from a government agency in your province or country and not a local town or city you should have an easier time working with your version of the Department of Transportation. If it is local than you may need that class action suit from the start. Start by following the money.
    They definitely get some government funding, I just don't know to what extent. Unfortunately most people that have business in that area have cars. Understandably, I must be the only nutcase trying to be argue with them to be independent having to take public transit because I *can*, I don't see anyone else. Either they take para transit and plan their days a week in advance and stay home and miss work if it snows or perpetually late everywhere and missing appointments or never have last minute plans or changes. So I'm not really sure how to reach out to those hypothetical people...funny enough, the other bus company (totally accessible) doesn't mind at all if people get on the bus without the ramp, I know a few people who do it and no one ever brought up insurance issues over falling if you do it...maybe it's region thing, or most likely, a question of having more common sense and living in the right era.

    I would have gladly accepted an insurance issue as the reason. But there are huge double standards. When I used to take their busses with stairs, a senior citizen with a walker fell off the steps. I also saw a mother almost drop a huge stroller on the same busses and block the entire aisle (which I never do). Or a guy on crutches with a toe to hip cast. How is that not an insurance issue? Yet they're still being let on no issues. Either be consistent or let everyone on! I'm an adult that knows what's safe and isn't for me, I'll wait for the next if it isn't. I saw one of their accessible lines pull up the other day. It stopped 4 feet from the curb and lowered the ramp and was just waiting watching the guy struggle (instead of waiting for the bus ahead to move and pull closer to the curb). Poor guy in a wheelchair was trying to hop down the curb and almost fell until 3 people rushed to help. So seriously, I can't get on an accessible bus because the line itself isn't officially labelled accessible but then drivers pull these stunts on accessible lines, making them not accessible afterall. It just doesn't make sense.

    Then you call and they say well people in wheelchair take the paratransit. YES! We'll decide what's safe for you, what you can physically do, and how to do it and why not, let's segregate people with disabilities and denying them independence like we just jumped back a few decades. Like it's an awesome chauffeur service that works for everyone (nope). I don't think they know what accessible means or that a wheelchair doesn't automatically equate that you need a ramp or that you're too dumb to know how to handle your wheelchair and that you'll break yourself trying to go up a 1 or 2 inch step. I'm looking into it though, I'm not about to give up! Thanks!
    Last edited by twistties; 02-08-2014 at 10:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    In Quebec try contacting the CSRO. They may have some ideas on access and their province's laws. I believe they are located in Montreal. And yes, they should be consistent but even with our ADA and 20 years nothing here is consistent. Good luck.
    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

    Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.

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