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Chilliwack mom barred from boarding bus with stroller

A Chilliwack mom complained about a transit driver on the #1 route after she was prevented May 8 from boarding a bus with her toddlers and stroller. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE
A Chilliwack mom complained about a transit driver on the #1 route after she was prevented May 8 from boarding a bus with her toddlers and stroller.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

It was her kids' first bus ride, and it ended in tears.

Chilliwack mom Sasha Selby said she complained to BC Transit after she was prevented from boarding a bus in downtown Chilliwack with her two toddlers and a double stroller in tow.

Selby was "disgusted" by her callous treatment by a bus driver on a #1 bus on May 8.

She took to social media "as a warning to other moms" after walking home partway in the pouring rain.

The driver told BC Transit officials he offered Selby the option of collapsing the streamlined jogging stroller and getting on the bus.

But that doesn't jibe with her version of the story.

"We got down there no problem and had a fantastic meal," Selby recounted about the kids' first bus trip downtown. "Then we waited for the bus. When it came the driver said, 'Nope! Your double wide stroller is too wide, you can't catch the bus.'"

Selby said she was in tears from the frustration of being suddenly stranded. She wasn't given any options or she would have complied.

"I told him I lived in Sardis Park and at this point it is coming down in buckets out there. My kids are soaked."

She was humiliated so she backed the stroller off the bus.

"I was feeling super uncomfortable."

The driver told her there were size restrictions for strollers on the bus, and he was already "six minutes" behind schedule, implying that she should hurry up and move along.

Now BC Transit is apologizing after the incident and offered free bus passes — which Selby politely declined.

"I didn't complain so that I would get anything. I did it to warn other mothers about getting on the bus with strollers," she said.

A BC Transit spokesperson sent an email to The Progress to explain the protocol and rules that led to what they're calling the "unfortunate" incident.

"As a family-friendly company we can certainly empathize with the Chilliwack mother who had to make her own way home with her children," said BC Transit spokesperson Meribeth Burton.

BC Transit and its subcontractor of transit services in Chilliwack, First Canada ULC, said they feel the (transit) "operator did his best to accommodate" Selby who was travelling with a double stroller "under challenging circumstances."

At this point, they investigated the complaint and found the driver "fully complied" with the rules.

The problem in this case, according to officials, was there were already two other strollers aboard the bus and no room for another.

It came down to capacity.

"There are capacity issues from time to time on our buses," wrote Burton in a statement. "In this particular circumstance, our operator says he asked the mom to fold the large stroller so that she could board safely."

She could have just opted to wait in the bus shelter another 20 minutes for the next bus, which would likely have had ample room. But her understanding was that no one was allowed to board with a double stroller.

"If there were other strollers on the bus, I didn't hear about it," said Selby.

It was more a case of "first come, first served" on the bus, according to BC Transit.

"We do have priority seating, at the front of the bus, for customers with mobility aids, for seniors and for parents with strollers," according to the transit official. "If all the priority seating is full, a customer may have to wait for the next available bus. It is unfortunate but it does happen."

These are the BC Transit 'Guidelines for Baby Strollers':

•    Should be collapsible

•    Cannot exceed 2' x 4'

•    Must be kept clear of the aisles

Asked if a formal complaint was submitted or if the driver was facing discipline of any sort, the response was no, that the driver had "followed protocol."

The other strollers were the real issue, and had they not been there, the mom could have gotten on the bus.

"In this circumstance, there were two strollers already on board and the operator felt he could not safely accommodate the customer with the double stroller unless it was folded up.

"From what we were told, the customer chose not to fold the stroller."

Selby said this part of the BC Transit response is simply not true.

"There is no way I would have rather walked home than fold up the stroller. I was not given the option. That would have been a no-brainer."

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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