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.”