Wheelchair User Refused Service, Blocks Bus

Tensions ran high recently at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in San Leandro, Calif., when a wheelchair user blocked a bus operated by AC Transit after being refused service by the driver.

The Jan. 10 incident, which was posted on YouTube, shows an unidentified man being turned away when the bus’ wheelchair securement area was apparently unoccupied. Other passengers walk around him and onto the bus while he angrily demands to know why he is being denied access. He then blocks the bus with his wheelchair for several minutes before the driver finally deployed the lift.

AC Transit declined comment but Clarence Johnson, the AC Transit media affairs manager, made a statement below the YouTube video. He said service could have been refused because the wheelchair area was occupied by other wheelchairs or nondisabled passengers refused to yield the space. Johnson also stated that the situation was under investigation.

Laurence Paradis, an attorney with Disability Rights Advocates, has frequently seen wheelchair users passed over by drivers. “Wheelchair users are passed by buses in the rain and in the snow,” he told a San Francisco ABC affiliate. “Drivers simply don’t want to be bothered with going through the extra effort to deploy a lift.”

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  1. Michael-Alan says:

    Déjà vu! My neighbor, Arden Hythe(rip) did this exact thing here in Baltimore when he had a run in with a troublesome bus operator. He made the news (pre YouTube).
    I used to volunteer on the citizens committee at the MTA to try to help bring light to these wrongs and make life better. Get involved!

  2. Smith, Mark says:

    Its a shame these actions are still having to happen. We stopped the buses this way 30 years ago in SLC–SOMETIMES I think we need to do it again–especially there is a need to retrain some of the bus operators

  3. Anne says:

    It has happened to me more times than I can count. I’ve blocked a bus many times, and was threatened with arrest twice. The most memorable occasion was several years ago when the wind chill was 20 below zero, snow was piling up on my lap, and I refused to vacate the intersection I was blocking until the transit officers agreed to wait with me outside until the next bus arrived- one hour and 20 minutes later. The “officers” were young enough to be my kids,kept complaining about the cold, and told me :”just catch the next bus; it’s no big deal”, even after I showed them the bus schedule, proving that there would be no bus for over an hour. I told them I hadn’t lived long enough to be their mother in order to be disrespected like that. So, I simply let them experience it first hand. Every time they tried to walk away, I blocked their exit with my power chair. I also called their supervisor the next day. His response: “Don’t go out at night when the buses run infrequently”. (I was coming home from work.)We have lives, just like everyone else, and deserve access to transportation. Period. It’s a civil right, not “special treatment”. Kudos to this man, and may there be many more like him until transit employees simply do their jobs.

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