Disabled woman barred from bus over dog's bus pass
An Ottawa transit bus driver will not be reprimanded after a disabled woman complained he barred her from a bus, called her names and twice left her in the freezing rain, said acityspokesman.
Michael Fitzpatrick said the driver acted professionally when he prevented Sue Anderson from boarding the OC Transpo bus with her assistance dog because he believed the dog's bus pass was fake.
Anderson, 50,uses a motorized wheelchair andhas only limited use of one arm. She relies on her American cocker spaniel Little Pieces, a trained assistance dog,to perform everyday tasks such as fetching her medication, pressing elevator buttons and keeping other passengers from crowding her on the bus.
Kathy Riley,OC Transpo'saccessible transit specialist, saidthe dog's city-issued bus pass is unique and bus drivers were not told about it.Thepass was issued as part of apilot projectintended to make things easier for people with assistance dogs other than guide dogs for the blind.
"It's a matter of us getting the message out to all of the operators and employees that a service dog is in fact much more than that," Riley said.
Meanwhile, Anderson said Mayor Larry O'Brien has promised to look into the incidents himself.
Anderson went public on Saturday with complaints about how she was treated by an OC Transpo driver on Dec. 29 and Jan. 1.
She said she hopes publicizing the incident will result in better treatment of people with disabilities who use public transit.
"I really hope that with this …all of the drivers will realize that not just Seeing Eye dogs are assist dogs," she said.
Anderson said the problems began when she presented both her own bus pass and her dog's while trying to board theNo. 5 bus.
She said the driver told her the dog's pass, which she has used for a year,was fake. He allowed her on the bus, but said hewouldn't pick her up again.
"He used the b-word," she said."I said, 'You, sir, are not a very nice man.' He said, 'You, madame, are a B.'"
Anderson said the same driver passed her twice without stopping three days later, while she waited in the freezing rain as it got dark.
"It really was disturbing," she said. "It makes me want to stay home."
- A story published on Jan. 8 reported that an OC Transpo spokeswoman said a driver won't be reprimanded for barring a disabled woman from a bus. In fact, the information about plans for the driver came from City of Ottawa spokesman Michael Fitzpatrick.Jan 22, 2007 3:25 PM ET