May 9, 2007

Two transit companies - two different views

It seemed strange to me that these two articles appeared in the newspapers on the same dates. The first article gives Durham Region Transit’s view on travelling on buses with baby strollers. The seconded one informs the public about an updated guideline that Guelph Transit has about strollers on their buses. Both newspapers are published by Metroland Media Group Ltd.


Thanks to the News Advertiser for the following report.


Bus battle gets woman kicked off


A stroller saga has one avid transit user questioning the compassion of the Region's transit staff.



Jane Latimer is seven months pregnant and a type-two diabetic, which makes her pregnancy high risk. The mix of circumstances has made it difficult to care for her two-and-half year old daughter. On doctor's orders she has been told to avoid lifting her.


"I have to take it easy," Ms. Latimer said. "I can't lift her and she is only 38 pounds."


Just after 5 p.m. on April 17, Ms. Latimer was heading to the grocery store in Oshawa with her daughter. She uses Durham Region Transit (DRT) to travel and this day was no exception. However, when she boarded the bus, her daughter asleep in a stroller, the driver told her she had to remove her daughter from the stroller and fold it up so it wasn't in the aisle.


"I said to him, 'I know it is your policy, but I also know that I have the right to refuse'," she explained. "They ramble on that it is a safety issue, but it is up to you if you want to keep your child in the stroller."


She said she asked a woman sitting in one of the wheelchair seats to move and locked the stroller in place.


"I wasn't in the isle at all," Ms. Latimer said.


She said the driver then got out of his seat, approached her and told her to get off the bus. When she refused a supervisor was called. While they waited for the supervisor to arrive, Ms. Latimer said passengers started to yell at her to get off the bus.


"It was embarrassing," she said. "I had an entire bus full of people yelling at me."


When the supervisor came he resolved the situation by driving Ms. Latimer, her friend and their children to their destination.


After the incident, Ms. Latimer said she was looking for retribution so she started calling DRT to get some answers, answers she said she never received.


"I think I am owed an apology," she said. "He embarrassed me in front of a whole bus."


DRT deputy general manager Phil Meagher doesn't disagree.


"It shouldn't have happened this way, that is all I can say about this one," he said.


He offered his apologies to Ms. Latimer for any inconvenience or embarrassment she may have faced, adding the driver would have been counselled at that time.


It is DRT policy that strollers be folded and out of the way.


"Our policy is that this is standard operating procedure, but if there's extenuating circumstances the driver should accommodate where possible," he said.


It is acceptable to put a stroller in the wheelchair spot as long as it isn't needed.


"(Strollers) are a common complaint because seniors and people with mobility issues have a problem getting around them," Mr. Meagher said.


**********


Thanks to the Guelph Tribune for the following report.


Transit Eases Its Guidelines on Strollers


City bus passengers will no longer have to fold strollers or "bundle buggy" shopping carts before boarding a bus, as a result of a change to a longstanding Guelph Transit policy.


After getting an increasing number of complaints about the policy, Guelph Transit decided to review it. It found many transit operations don't require passengers to fold up strollers or bundle buggies.


Research also found some studies showing a child is safer left in a stroller in the event of an accident, because of the stroller's restraint system and containment, says a new staff report to city council.


Although passengers will no longer need to fold these devices prior to boarding, they must be able to board and disembark without help. They are also responsible for making sure the devices remain clear of the aisle and don't interfere with the safety or comfort of another passenger.


Bus drivers "have complete discretion, if they feel the stroller or bundle buggy is compromising safety of passengers," to ask that the passenger move it to "a safe location," the report says.


The policy will make travelling on a bus easier for passengers with these devices, it says.


"It is often very difficult for a parent to safely hang on to more than one child, a folded stroller and the multitude of paraphernalia that accompanies the care of small children.


"By allowing passengers to keep their children in strollers, it will allow them to travel more safely and conveniently, as they will be able to better control their possessions."


Similarly, many passengers have difficulty carrying their groceries if they're required to fold up a bundle buggy, the report says.

4 comments:

karem allen said...

I read the Oshawa story today, I feel bad for the mother to be embarassed like that. It is probably true that the child is safer in the stroller. City buses do not travel at speeds that the stroller itself would be considered a "projectile" I would think if the brakes are applied and it is being held onto well it should be fine in the event of a low speed accident?

In your experience as a driver, what would be the top speed a driver would be at on route?. I see things in fast stops get out of riders hands and water bottles and such roll and slide to the front.

The area around the driver needs to be safe from anything coming forward-- including strollers.

Andy said...

Can I take luggage and large objects on the bus?
Space to transport large amounts of luggage and other objects is limited. Passengers wishing to carry on luggage and large objects are advised to travel in non-rush-hour periods. Strollers are allowed anytime, but should be folded.

Will the Bus Operator assist a passenger with luggage, strollers and large objects?
Bus Operators are not required to assist customers with luggage, strollers or large objects. Items carried on board should be manageable both in size and weight by the customer without assistance.

What is the DRT policy regarding strollers?
Strollers should be folded and carried onto the bus. The stroller should be placed to prevent rolling when the bus is moving. Keep aisle clear for passengers at all times.

What is the DRT policy regarding children?
Children should be removed from strollers and seated or held securely on your lap. Children must be supervised at all times.

Read all of the DRT FAQs about riding DRT buses at http://www.durhamregiontransit.com/durham/index_e.aspx?DetailID=5#2

Andy said...

I think I should have should have said in my original post that there are two sides to every story. The newspaper article makes this woman sound like an angel. The reporter fails to mention any communication with the transit operator involved.

David Harrison said...

Well, there is contradictory information on the DRT site. The Safety tips page at
http://www.durhamregiontransit.com/durham/index_e.aspx?ArticleID=43

says:

* Children should be removed from strollers when boarding, children in strollers may be wheeled aboard accessible, low-floor buses
* When traveling, children should be removed from strollers and seated or held securely on your lap
* Strollers should be folded if possible - if not folded, brakes must be applied
* Hold strollers securely or fold and store between seats to keep aisle clear for passengers

There are a lot of "shoulds" in this document. DRT needs to create a clearer policy and make sure that both passengers and staff understand what it is. Drivers should not be placed in confrontational situations due to badly-formulated policy.