Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

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Refused Boarding The Public Bus Because Of My Wheelchair

Early afternoon, a bus driver refused me access to his bus because I use a wheelchair. I asked him to lower the front of the bus so I could get on board. He said “no”. He said “take paratransit”. So in 2013, wheelchair users are still facing this kind of discrimination. Incredible, but true.

It happened at the bus dépot at metro Cartier, for the Societé des Transports de Laval. It happened at 12:47 pm. I immediately filed a formal complain by ringing customer help desk, and then tweeted.

The platform where it happened, a few minutes after the events.

The lady on the phone was very nice. The person handling the twitter account was a bit slower to respond, but in the end sent a nice apology.

(Our sincere apologies for the problem. Let’s communicate so it doesn’t happen again. Thank you very much).

They said the driver was at fault, and that they want to rectify the situation. Ok.

But this wouldn’t have happened in the first place if all their buses were accessible. There are over 40 routes. Only 2 (TWO) of which are fully accessible. More or less 5% of all routes are completely accessible. The other lines may be used by people with limited mobility if they have either an assistant with them or are semi-autonomous.

What I don’t understand is that all the busses I’ve seen have ramps and can lower the front of the bus. Except… Except… All these ramps have been disabled! I admit to being completely boggled. I do not understand at all. Not at all. Why disabled ramps, and fix them in place with screws? I’d understand if the busses were old and didn’t have ramps, and that they were waiting to replace them. But these busses do have ramps. Surely reparing/fixing the ramps would be a cheaper alternative than replacing the busses?

And so I wait ’till next week to see what the STL will do following my complaint. And I’d like to know what their plans are to get all routes accessible. Surely they don’t think that waiting another 5 or 10 years is acceptable? Damn, we’re in 2013, not in the dark ages!