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OTTAWA: Woman angry that bus driver refused to let her and her stroller on crowded bus

Mother filed complaint with OC Transpo last week, hasn’t received a response

CBC News Posted: Nov 26, 2014 5:00 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 26, 2014 5:58 PM ET

An Ottawa woman says she’s still waiting for a response from OC Transpo and doesn’t plan on riding buses with her baby on cold days in the future after a bus driver asked her to get off a bus with her stroller and two-month-old baby.

Robin Noel baby OC Transpo complaint asked to get off stroller Nov 26 2014Noel says she filed a complaint with OC Transpo that night and hasn’t yet heard back. (CBC)

“I was extremely frustrated, to say the least,” said Robin Noel, nearly a week after the Thursday, Nov. 20 incident during the afternoon rush hour.

She was waiting for a No. 2 bus on Somerset Street West and had timed it so she’d be waiting outside for only five minutes.

But the first bus was full and didn’t stop and the second, smaller bus was 20 minutes late. She said she watched six to eight people get off, but that the driver wouldn’t let her on.

“As I was starting to get on the bus, the driver looks at me and says, ‘I can’t fit a stroller, you have to get off,'” Noel recalled.

“So I was about to concede, until he looked past me at all the other people standing behind me and said, ‘I can fit five or six people on this bus.’ And me and my stroller do not take up the space of five or six people, so I got extremely angry … and I proceeded to get on the bus and pay with my Presto card.”

The bus driver told her he wasn’t going anywhere until she got off the bus, she said, and at that point, other bus riders got involved.

“Some of the customers were telling me to get off the bus, and other customers were saying, ‘She has a baby, why would you tell her to get off the bus?’,” Noel said.

People then made room for her in the priority seating area, and she said she was able to safely secure the stroller.

The driver “was very angry that I got on his bus without his permission,” but Noel said he eventually decided to continue his route with her and her baby on the bus.

She said she filed a complaint with OC Transpo that same night and that she hasn’t received a response.

‘You don’t know who you’re going to upset next,’ bus drivers union says

Craig Watson ATU Local 279 Nov 26 2014 OC Transpo bus driver stroller complaintCraig Watson, head of the local bus drivers union, says the bus driver was trying to do his best in a difficult situation. (CBC)

Craig Watson, who heads the local bus drivers union, ATU Local 279, said allowing strollers on buses is up to a driver’s discretion.

“It’s a very tough load to haul, because you don’t know who you’re going to upset next. … We have to keep in mind that the driver is trying to do his best in a situation where he’s already overloaded because of a missing bus … and he’s trying to satisfy all elements of society, and it’s hard to tell who’s disabled, who’s not, who needs that seat, who doesn’t. The driver is doing his best and trying his best, but he’s only human. And you know what? The public has to take some responsibility,” Watson said.

“When you see a lady coming in with a stroller, people should have — if they could get up out of that seat — they should have got up and folded the seat up for her, and then the driver never would have had the issue.”

Noel said she’s delighted with OC Transpo service 80 per cent of the time and that she’s “disappointed” by the incident.

She said that to avoid the hassle in the future, she doesn’t plan on riding buses with her baby on cold days.

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