Wagons on Transit
By Randy Millis
Last year my disabled neighbour went to the food bank with her folding wagon, similar to mine pictured below.
Joan, not her real name, had made the trip to the Central Okanogan Food Bank and back many times since moving to the Capri area last June.
Joan is on BC‘s Persons with Disabilities Assistance and has a mild physical and mental disability. She uses the Central Okanogan Food Bank for food assistance once per month, and is grateful for the help.
She used her BC transit Compass card bus pass, provided by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, for the trip, as she has no family or friends to help her and this is her only form of transportation.
She returned from the Central Okanagan Food Bank on Enterprise Way on the route number 10 with her loaded wagon of frozen and perishable items.
When she arrived at the Orchard Park Mall Exchange to board the route 11 home, the driver turned her away with her wagon, yelling it was not allowed before slamming the door and driving off.
In the summer heat faced with all of her food spoiling she was forced to spend her last $15 on a cab.
She recounted the story one day to me and I wondered why this happened. She had made the trip many many times before without issue.
I contacted BC Transit Information and asked if wagons were allowed on the bus.
I was told there was nothing in the transit regulations prohibiting wagons on the bus.
So last week I again called BC Transit and spoke to an Information Agent to inquire if wagons were allowed on the bus. Once again I was told there was no issue taking a wagon on the bus.
Today my fiancé and I took the bus to the Kelowna Walmart to gather our groceries. We figured we’d save some fuel and get some fresh air.
On the return trip, boarding the route 10 on Enterprise Way the driver allowed me onto the bus and then told me to fold my wagon.
I said “I’m sorry I can’t fold the wagon because it is full of groceries.” I explained to the driver what I had been told by the Information Agent in a recent telephone call.
He said he would let it go this time but not to do it again.
As the bus was not full and there were no handicap patrons, I folded the priority seats and safely tucked the waggon into the corner between the wheel well and the disabled seating and held it firmly.
I figured if a disabled patron needed to board the bus, I would vacated the area and get off the bus and wait for the next bus to be courteous and respect the priority seating.
I respectfully asked the driver for his operator ID so that I could talk to the Information Centre to once again clarify the details, and if there was an exception they could inform him.
The driver, a grey haired ruddy faced gentleman, became en raged and told me very gruffly “It was none of my business and if I wanted to be smart I could get off at the next stop!”
He then pulled the bus over at the next stop and told me to get off.
I refuse to get off unless I could speak to a Supervisor, restating what I had previously mentioned about checking in advance of my trip about my wagon.
The driver then threaten to call the RCMP and have me removed.
I said politely I would be happy to get off the bus to allow the other patrons to continue on their journey as long as a Supervisor attended to speak with me a few minutes later.
A first Canada Supervisor arrived and explained courteously that this is totally against BC Transit‘s Policy due to safety reasons.
However more than a dozen people I spoke with in my Capri neighbourhood have taken all manner of carts and wagons on the bus without issue.
In fact I see people all the time on the bus with folding wagons, strollers without the brakes applied and even wheelchair users without brakes applied or the seatbelt fastened. The drivers did absolutely nothing. I certainly have never seen a driver eject any of these people from a transit vehicle.
I find it odd that we’re encouraged to ride transit to improve traffic and better our environment, but people who wish to use transit for daily activities such as grocery shopping are not permitted to do so.
You see these folding wagons at almost every major retailer in Kelowna and online. They are affordable and incredibly handy.
Many seniors and people with mobility issues use these aids to go about their daily activities regularly.
I left a voicemail with Kelowna transit and I’m waiting for a callback to find out more detail and hopefully do an interview.
I was fortunate enough to have a good Samaritan give me a ride home before my groceries spoiled but I feel very strongly that this is something that needs to be addressed by BC Transit.