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Riding the bus a bust

BC Transit Mission Statement

To excel in the provision of safe, reliable, cost-efficient and market-focused public transportation systems that support the social, economic and environmental goals of the customers and communities we serve.

I start with this as it does not line up with my recent experience.  Fifteen days ago while taking a routine bus ride with an amazing young man I support in the community, who happens to have profound autism, we were refused access to the bus for a second ride being told by the driver that after contacting control he did not have to provide joy rides.  

That was Feb. 11, 2014. On Feb 14, 2014 I followed the BC Transit policy for complaints by completing the online form providing to the best of my ability all details.  

Feb 17. I received a response from Bill Harding, General Manager of Kelowna Transit, letting me know they were trying to identify the driver as it was not the usual one.  After hearing nothing for three days I contacted Bill again and he let me know the driver had been identified and a discussion concerning the event would follow.  

Again I waited and on Feb 25th I requested an update.  Bill let me know he is "confident that I won't encounter a similar issue with this driver" and continues with "however if I do please let him know and he will fix it".  My response to Bill ended with "if there is not an acceptable reason don't you think an apology is warranted?”.  His response "Sorry, my mistake.  I thought I had apologized for the behavior of this employee".

This experience has been disappointing to say the least but my concern is the lack of responsibility taken by BC Transit.  I am shocked that I had to request an apology, which would be a standard response in any conflict resolution training in customer service in my experience. 

Riding the bus has been part of our routine for almost a year and in contrast the experience has been generally pleasant.  The driver we usually have is Spencer and he treats every rider with the kindness, respect and humor.  He greets us by name when we enter the bus and in this weather reminds us to be careful when exiting as there may be ice or snow.  He has become the standard I expect.

As I have become increasingly frustrated in this process I wonder how many others have experienced discrimination from BC Transit but do not have a voice of their own or an advocate to fight for them.  How do I know that I will not face another driver who can arbitrarily determine that we cannot ride his bus even though we have a pass?  

What does a mission statement that states it is a system that will support social, economic and environmental goals of customers and communities we serve mean?  How is that measured and evaluated?  What is BC transit doing to guarantee equal access for all?

Tammy Fuller

Editors's note: Let's keep the letters to 250 words please.

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