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A shameful situation on the local bus.

2008-10-07 - 12:03 p.m.

Today is the 5-year anniversary of this journal. Rather than dwelling on this, however, I want to draw peopleís attention to a local Ottawa story which completely outrages me.

Here is the link, but if it ceases to work when the paper archives the story, or if you just donít feel like following it, hereís the gist of what happened, gleaned from several articles which covered the story:

Bus pulls up to a bus stop where there are two mothers waiting with strollers.
Bus driver tells mothers only one stroller can get on.
One of the mothers says thatís not right and wants to speak to supervisor over this.
While mother is talking, motherís 2-year-old gets on bus and sits down.
Bus driver shuts door in motherís face and drives away with toddler on board.
Bus passengers start yelling as mother and bystander chase bus.
Bus driver pulls up about 100 meters along, lets distressed toddler off bus into care of bystander, then shuts door and drives away again.

This bus had only about 10 people on it; Alain Mercier, the head of the bus company (OC Transpo) admits that, in this case, space wasnít an issue and there was room for both strollers on the bus.

The driver was suspended, pending an investigation, and the mother received an apology. However, the company has made comments to the effect that the driver will be ďretrainedĒ. To the mother in this story, this is not acceptable and she wants him fired, and I donít blame her one bit.

A couple of years ago there was a local school bus driver who did his run, checked the bus after the kids were let off at the school, and failed to notice that one of the children had crawled under the seat and fallen asleep. This driver was automatically fired. I ask you, in which scenario do you think the driver should be fired? Okay, maybe you think ďbothĒ, but if I could only pick one? It would be the driver who, for no good reason, refused boarding to a mother dependant on public transit, then drove off with her child, then let the kid off and drove off AGAIN. I am totally with the mother on this one. To be honest, even if he hadnít driven off with her child (which I believe is the only reason it made the news) I wouldnít want this man driving a bus on my public transit system. I donít think that, if thereís room, thereís any excuse to refuse boarding to a mother, just because she has a stroller. Itís not like it was rush hour and the bus was packed Ė it was early Saturday evening and the bus only had 10 people on it.

To me, this is just another indicator of how society views mothers: when weíre pregnant almost everyone smiles, but as soon as we have a child or two in tow our overall value as people plummets and we draw criticism and contempt, and almost no one stands up for us when it happens. Well, Iím standing up for this mom. Iím going to send an email to the attention of Alain Mercier at OC Transpo's customer service email address, ocserve@octranspo.com, to express my outrage.

A little activism seems like a great way to celebrate 5 years online.


Edited to add: True to my word, I struck while the iron was hot and sent that email. I've posted a copy of it in the comments section if you're curious.

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