STM bus driver refuses to lower ramp for woman with walker

Aimée Louw says she’s fed up with the way Montreal bus drivers treat people with mobility issues.

Aimée Louw, who uses a walker, says 24 Sherbrooke bus driver discriminated against her disability

Louw uses a walker and sometimes a wheelchair to get around. She says an STM bus driver refused to lower the ramp for her this week, leading to an altercation involving the police. 1:36

Aimée Louw says she’s fed up with the way city bus drivers in Montreal treat people with mobility issues.

Louw, who uses a walker, said an attempt to get on and off a 24 Sherbrooke bus this week turned into an altercation involving the police.

"I pay the same price for my pass as anyone else, and I was denied access," Louw said.

The saga began as Louw tried to board the city bus on Sherbrooke Street near Décarie Boulevard. She said she asked the driver to lower the ramp, but the driver refused because she wasn’t in a wheelchair.

Louw said she asked the driver if the ramp was working, and the driver simply replied that she didn't know if it was working or not.

Eventually a passenger on the bus helped her aboard. However, she said, the driver pulled away from the station before she had a chance to sit down, sending her walker flying toward the back of the bus.

Aimée Louw boards a bus after an STM driver lowers the ramp for her. She says that in her experience, many of the bus ramps are often non-operational. (CBC)

Police called in

Of course, the problem wasn't yet resolved — Louw also had to get off the bus.

She said she couldn’t reach the stop-request button but did verbally ask to be let off at the next stop via the bus wheelchair ramp.

The driver passed Louw’s stop, only pulling over to the curb at the following stop to let her off.

"[She] started reprimanding me for not using the right stop-request button," Louw said. 

Louw said she was unable to get off the bus with her walker unless the ramp was lowered.  The bus driver again refused to lower the ramp – instead, calling the STM operations chief, who cleared the bus of all the remaining passengers and called for police assistance.

When the police showed up, Louw said they told her she needed to get off the bus.

"And I said, ‘That’s absolutely correct. Can you lower the ramp for me?'" she said.

It turned out the ramp was broken. Officers helped Louw off the bus.

She said it’s events like these that compromise the independence of people with mobility issues.

Louw said she has diverse mobility needs, meaning she uses a wheelchair, walker or scooter depending on the day.

She has had previous run-ins with STM. She said in her experience, the ramps rarely work properly, if at all.

Now, she says she plans to file a human rights complaint.

The STM said it is looking into Louw's complaint.


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