ATU Local 508 In Violation of Human Rights and Endangering the Disabled
Check this out..Halifax metro transit only has two percent of their buses that can safely carry wheelchairs..
so I can not use buses and yet it is supposed to be a guaranteed human right
Please see this report with photos and video from inside the bus.
Update September 25 2014. In the article below the Flyer buses are noted as the New Flyer buses. Please note that means buses made over ten years ago. Halifax transit has now been buying newer recent Flyer buses that do not have any four point tie down straps making the buses unsafe and unusable by heavy power wheelchairs users..
[UPDATE I have submitted a copy of this report to the Halifax City Hall and the heads of the drivers union and they are all just ignoring this serious human right issues and endangering of public transit passengers.]
(NOTE: This is a lengthy report. So you can listen to this audio-video transcript)
Please scroll down for the downloadable pdf file of this article.
This is a Published Public Notice to The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 and it’s drivers of participating knowingly or unknowingly in violating the human rights of the disabled and of endangering their lives as well as endangering the lives of other public transit bus passengers.
Given by Daniel J Towsey January 4th 2013.
I have been inspired by the events of today to write this report and give this notice to the Public Transit Bus Drivers because of the events that occurred at the Mumford terminal in Halifax and many other previous events.
It was a day of very high winds and it was well below freezing. I found myself stranded and unable to get home because non of the buses (mostly NOVA buses) could safely secure or attach my electric wheelchair.
Halifax Metro Transit has knowingly and deliberately failed to provide the necessary equipment or to maintain existing equipment on any of their fleet of public transit buses, that can safely and properly secure my very heavy (800 pounds plus) electric wheelchair.
I will now give you a summary of the events of today that I described today in my conversation with one of the executives of ATU Local 508 . in Dartmouth by telephone.
I advised the union representative of my writing this report and that I would be posting it at my wheelchair rights website.
He asked that I let him know when it would be published and that he would then copy, print and forward it to the head of the Amalgamated Public Transit Union Executive Offices.
So here goes. I now again find myself having to exhaustively have to fight for my human rights.
I have been fighting for my human rights and in a battle with The Halifax Public transit commission for more then two and a half years.
I became disabled on November 22 2009 where soon after I was having to use a power wheelchair to travel anywhere outside of my home.
Becoming disabled and severely injured was horrific enough.
But my experiences with the Halifax Public Transit Commission and their deliberate violations of the rights of the disabled and knowingly endangering their lives is overwhelming and they are absolutely guilty of criminal negligence.
If you look at the extensive information at https://wheelchairrights.wordpress.com you will see the evidence and proof of what H R M (Halifax Regional Municipality) has done to me.
H R M and the Nova Scotia Provincial government has been negligent at every level across all of H R M and Nova Scotia in every aspect of their responsibilities and duties in providing the necessary standards leadership in living up to the U.N Treaty for the disabled. This includes sidewalks, building standards for the needs of the disabled and everything else. This negligence is evident in everything the government does…
I advised the union representative about my previously filing a complaint with the Nova Scotia human rights commission against Halifax Metro Transit.
The outcome of which is that the human rights commission ruled that Halifax Metro Transit has been
” Historically violating the human rights of wheelchair users.”
Where upon Metro transit arrived at agreements to change a numerous number of their policies and activities that were in violation.
I am now testifying here that there after Halifax Metro transit’s executives, managers or supervisors did not honor the agreements or change their horrific attitude of violating my human rights.
And it fact things got much worse and the management of Halifax metro transit engaged in a stalking campaign by following me around Halifax in their overly luxurious S U Vs, You can read more on that topic by reading my previous article about the “Bus driver refuses to let me off the bus”
That event resulted in one of the metro transit supervisors applying the unconstitutional provincial act
“Protection of property Act’ and banned me from all Halifax Public transit properties and services for the next six months that included Access-a-bus and blocking me from getting to medical appointments and more..
That same supervisor showed up today at the Mumford bus terminal and with a smile on his face he announced in front of a bus load of passengers that he was the one that had previously banned me when I had engaged in a previous fight for my human rights when the driver refused to let me off the bus at the old Dartmouth bus terminal.
This supervisor again with a smile, announced that he was looking forward to when he was going to have a look at the videos of the events of today and would then ban me again.
Not once did he want to know or care about what was happening today and why he was here. He showed very clearly that again he cares not one little bit at showing me any respect and made it very clear that he cared not that I was stranded in the freezing cold sitting in my wheelchair freezing for two and a half hours. He only cared to ban me again because I had to make a protest by telling the drivers that I would block the buses passage if they did not do something to help me get out of the freezing cold.
I had to do something drastic as my legs had now frozen and I had lost feeling in them.
But this supervisor just wants to ban me again.
So now, below I will explain more of what led to my being stranded and which will explain more the meaning of the title of this report.
I understand now after my conversation with the Union rep why this situation of the bus drivers involvement in their participation in endangering the lives electric wheelchair users has been going on forever.
I advised the rep that by my notifying him now that he could not plead ignorance to this situation. I also made it clear to him that ignorance of the law is never an accepted defense in a court of law.
I now advise the Amalgamated Public Transit Union to seek legal advise on this situation.
And please remember the universally accepted ruling of the world court at the Nuremberg Trials of Germany Crimes of war. Where it was stated that following the orders of superiors, where those orders were wrong, harmful or even deadly to the rights of human beings were not an acceptable defense. In other words just because your superior tells you or gives you permission to do harm or injustice knowingly or unknowingly to others IS NOT A DEFENSE.
I advised the union rep that the bus drivers have a responsibility and duty to inspect and make sure that their buses will be safe to operate to ensure the protection of all its passengers.
But in defense of all the great and wonderful drivers that I have often had the wonderful opportunity of having intellectual conversations with that,
I understand that bus drivers are not mechanics, are not engineers, are not trained on how to safely secure electric wheelchairs, are not advised on how to, or to even inspect that the equipment for wheelchairs is safe, sound and properly maintained.
I understand that the drivers believe and expect that Halifax Metro Transit is being prudent and is not deceiving the drivers.
I understand that the drivers expect that metro transit is taking their responsibility to manage and properly equip and maintain all the equipment for wheelchairs.
But I now advising all drivers that that is not the case. Metro transit is criminally negligent. And yes many of you drivers know of incidences with wheelchair users safety having been at risk
Over the years many drivers have told me that they have stopped filing reports at the end of their shifts that related to defective or broken equipment related to wheelchairs. The drivers all told me that never ever does Halifax metro transit fix the issues.
Also I used to be an ace auto mechanic so I am very aware of the mechanics and motor vehicles safety standards that mechanics have a legal duty to do.
This brings up my conversation i had with one of metro transits managers where I asked him, “When was the last time that a safety inspection was ever done on any public transit bus done for the wheelchair equipment? He said never and laughed. He said they really do not care to inspect wheelchair equipment.
So now when I was talking with the union rep today, I stated that it is the Unions duty to protest against Halifax Metro Transit and declare that from now on and until all the public transit buses under their care and control are inspected and equipped with properly installed and or maintained devices for wheelchairs and that they have four tie down points with automatic ratchets and steel hooks for electric wheelchairs. That the drivers refuse to accept transporting any wheelchairs.
He, the union rep then said to me that the drivers are not permitted to refuse wheelchair users on public transit buses. That that would be a human rights violation.
I then tried to make him understand that the present situation is a violation of the disabled human rights because the buses are incapable of securing or transporting electric wheelchairs..
So that means that my human rights are indeed and knowingly being violated.
I indicated to him that the only buses, which represents only approximately two percent of Halifax Public transit fleet that can safely transport wheelchairs are the buses they call ‘The new Flyer buses’ but please note these buses are actually very old.
These new Flyer buses are equipped with four cargo straps and automatic ratchets that also have metal attaching hooks on the ends.
So as I sat there at the Mumford terminal freezing. I watched as almost a hundred different buses went by me. Many of these different routes could of taken me close to my home.
Riding my wheelchair on the sidewalks was not possible. Please understand that the streets were clear and dry and so were the sidewalks. But HRM always clears the sidewalks first and then clears the streets. Then they plow in snow at all the curb cut outs at intersections so that it freezes over and no one in a wheelchair can get on or off the sidewalks because they are blocked by plowed snow that usually turns into a wall of ice. again if HRM managed their business properly this would not be happening.
As I waited, I already knew that the only buses I can travel on are Flyer buses. So I waited for one that I could board to get home on.
I recently received my new outdoor electric wheelchair. That I had to get because I could not go anywhere in Halifax on their buses without being stranded like happened today. The quality of my life has been very limited to the weather conditions and the distance my chair can travel.
Please understand that for well over a year now I have almost never used buses.
I actually had to move out of my home in Dartmouth because of all the issues with Halifax Metro transit. I moved into the only apartment building I could find that was wheelchair accessible and very close to a grocery store so that I would not have to depend on public transit to survive.
So today I got on the older Flyer bus that arrived. These older buses do not meet the necessary minimum standards for accepting, transporting or securing large heavy electric wheelchairs.
I made a comment to the driver that “Wow this bus is so small” I had extreme difficulty in being able to park my wheelchair. It was a very tight fit.
Then because this bus does not have the necessary steel hooks ,hooks at the end of the straps that secure my wheelchair to the floor.
The driver asked me if I have any straps that attach to my wheelchair?
Please let me now explain to you the readers what this bus driver was asking.
This explanation will take some time and I will return to what happened on this old Flyer bus I was now on.
All electric wheelchairs manufactured anywhere on earth except here in Canada have to go through a safety certification of the minimum standards before they are permitted to go out into the retail market.
In Europe people who live an independent life outside of institutionalized care are given outdoor wheelchairs like my new one is. Oh please understand. I am the only disabled person that has ever been able to get one. That took two and a half years of horrific experiences in dealing with ignorant overbearing corrupt government officials.
So as an example, the wheelchairs in Europe are required to have reflectors, and especially lights like on any other passenger vehicles and are equipped with horns.
Also that wheelchairs be made with outdoor tires or winter tires. (My present wheelchair does not have outdoor tires or winter tires.)
But not here in Canada.
Canada has no safety standards or certification process before permitting electric motorized wheelchairs on the market.
Please note that even indoor wheelchairs which is the only chairs disabled people here are ever given. ( that is another serious human rights issue I am also dealing with. Not providing outdoor wheelchairs to disabled people makes it so they can not achieve a free and independent life like I am continuously fighting for. Which is guaranteed under the new United Nations Human Rights for the Disabled Treaty that every Province and Canada ratified and made into law not long ago. This report clearly shows that Halifax Metro Transit and every other level of governments and its employees are doing everything they can not to live up to this treaty)
So all electric wheelchairs world wide for at least the past twenty five years are equipped with four metal rings that are secured to the strongest part of the wheelchair, that being the frame. Part of the testing is with the weight of a 300 pound passenger which is secured with a wheelchair seat belt.
These metal rings are for the transportation of electric wheelchairs in a moving vehicle. So the wheelchairs are capable of never breaking loose in the of a vehicle accident. The hooks have to be strong enough to even hold the wheelchair secured to the floor of the bus even if the bus turns upside down. But the main reason the wheelchairs can not be permitted to come loose in the event of an accident is that it would be extremely destructive and deadly for the wheelchair passenger and especially other passengers or the bus driver if this 800 pound wheelchair ever came loose and struck passengers and such as baby strollers.
Also dear readers please note that Halifax is the oldest city in north America. Is mostly a hilly town where buses here are continuously riding on narrow twisting hills. No bus in HRM ever drives more then a minute before being on an incline or having to make sharp turns to another street.
Bus drivers and most people believe that wheelchairs actually have brakes as in parking brakes. I am amazed when some drivers have asked me if my brakes are on. I understand the drivers are not mechanics. They do not understand that wheelchairs while they are being driven, are stopped by the motors. So when I park in a moving bus it is very important that my chair be secured. Also most people do not understand that wheelchair tires are very hard and stiff as they are airless. That makes the tires very slippery. The floors on buses are very often wet from rain or snow. That makes it very dangerous for wheelchairs if they are not secured as the chairs will easily slide across the floor sideways and into the isle.
Now to prove to you the readers that Metro transit is very aware of the situation about the NOVA buses needing four tie downs.
Please go to this article are hear the CBC radio clip with my statement and the CBC reporter asking Metro transits representative about the four tie downs. Her answer proves beyond any question that Metro Transit management knows and is deliberately avoiding the truth that they are deliberately avoiding the issue.
CBC Radio Interview Nova Scotia Violates Human Rights Of The Disabled
So now I will return to the topic of my boarding this old Flyer bus, and further down this report I will explain more about all the NOVA buses in this city that are unusable and dangerous for electric wheelchairs.
I told the driver that the straps are in the pocket of my knap sack (school bag) that is hanging behind my back rest. I have explained to drivers before, that those straps can not be attached to my wheelchair when I am driving it as they would get caught up onto the moving parts of the chairs suspension.
A side note here; Wheelchair manufacturers do not approve of extra straps ever being attached to wheelchairs. Wheelchairs were never engineered to have extra straps attached to them. Wheelchair manufactures can not be held liable in the event of equipment failure or injury if extra straps were attached to the chairs. Also wheelchairs like mine cost more then most cars. My chair costs fifteen thousand dollars. Electric wheelchairs go up to one hundred and ten thousand dollars. The extra straps being attached to the chair will also void the very valuable warranty on my new wheelchair. If the straps cause my wheelchairs frame to twist the warranty would be void and the chair would most likely not be repairable.
So I parked my wheelchair. The driver had attached the extra straps. But the old Flyer buses do not have the steel hooks at the end of the cargo straps. Instead they have a strap shaped like a “Y” the bottom end of the why is attached to a manual wind up ratchet that is impossible for many driver to get their fingers on and too often do not have the strength to turn. Plus many drivers are either over weight or elderly and can not get down low to the floor to tighten up the ratchets. Also this old bus did not have anyway for the driver to be able to squeeze behind me to get in close to and be able to tighten that hand ratchet. This is usually what happens.
Now at the other two ends of the “Y” strap are a clasp and buckle as you would see on a typical passenger seat belt.
Also please note that the strap material that these buses are using are not made or intended to be made for holding 800 pounds. Those are actually car seat belts material made to hold at most 400 pounds. The straps are NOT cargo straps.
So now if you can envision my large outdoor wheelchair, The extra straps and the very narrow area where my wheelchair is parked on this older Flyer bus. add the length of the extra straps, the size of my chair an the extra length at the end of the tie down straps on the bus. It means the straps are too long even when the ratchets are tightened all the way. They are still loose. Now if you could see in front of me I have my feet on foot pedals and my feet are only two inches from the buses wheel well. So now if this bus were to start driving, my chair would move forward when the bus was braking and would of squashed my feet.
I asked the driver if he could tighten the back straps any more and he said no. Plus he could not get down behind my chair to reach the ratchet. There was no room in this smaller older bus.
I was so upset knowing that I had waited for an hour for this bus and I had to go back out in the freezing wind again and I could not get home. When I got off this bus the driver should of called dispatch and let them know that I was stranded here and could not get home. He would not, or metro transit would not send an access-a-bus for me. Being disabled and having very poor circulation in my legs and having been out in the cold this long was dangerous for my health.
I stayed out there for another hour.
The bus terminal at Mumford terminal has one side where the buses stop for passengers on the street side and the other side of the terminal is on the inside of the terminal.
The inside of the terminal was completely clear and dry with no snow or ice anywhere. It was being well maintained by metro transit.
But on the other side is the street. There there is only a small area where there is a cut out, a widening of the road for buses to pull in. That spot only has room for one bus. On the street side there are many bus routes. So those buses usually stop on the street at the curb. But metro transit leaves the responsibility of clearing the curb area to the city to take care of. So what happens? The whole length of the terminal on the street side ends up with a huge snowbank. The drivers still stop and load and unload passengers there. The passengers have to climb up onto the frozen solid snow banks.
So, here I am sitting in my wheelchair freezing. A huge articulated NOVA bus was parked in the only spot that was cleared of snow and the only spot where I could wait for a bus and where the bus could lower the ramp.
So what was happening. Bus after bus was driving by this parked bus and going further up the street. So that I could not be seen nor could I go down the road to get on one of the buses that could take me home because they could not lower their ramps onto the snow banks.
So now I spoke with one of the drivers and I told him that if metro transit did not find a way to get me home I would block the buses from leaving.
Well that worked. They called dispatch and the Police. And that ignorant metro transit supervisor shows up. I could not have a conversation with this guy because he had a really horrible conceited arrogant attitude.
I never actually stopped any buses from leaving. I just wanted some driver to call dispatch. So the Police show up. At this time a lady in a wheelchair had been hearing and seeing what was going on with me. She came up and told the Police that a week earlier she called HRM and told them that the snow bank was making it impossible for wheelchair users to get on buses. She also said that Metro transit knew about this and did nothing. Like usual Metro transit just makes excuses. Their excuse is that the roadway is the responsibility of the city crews. I myself do not care for their excuses. The problem needs to be taken care of. But like usual, metro transits management never solves or takes care of problems. And who suffers the most? The disabled who have no other means of transportation then public buses.
I would now like to tell you what a bus driver told me about a year and a half ago.
There was this girl who was about sixteen years old. She got her first electric wheelchair and was very happy and eager to go out on a bus and do things.
She boarded one of the older flyer buses. The driver asked her the same thing. Do you have any straps for your chair? She did not know what he was talking about. The driver himself knew basically nothing about the straps. He did not tell this girl that there was specially made straps. The girl probably saw straps on other wheelchairs. So she went to a dollar store and bought velcro straps that looked identical to the straps on my chair. She then boarded another Flyer bus.
The driver told me that what happened was so horrific and was witnessed by a bus load of people. When the driver made a left turn the chairs velcro straps let go. The chair flipped on its side, slid across the floor and pinned the girl against the wheel well of the bus. It was a horrific event. No one could help the girl. The chair being over 500 pounds crushed the girl. My impression from the driver was that the girl died. The driver that was telling me this was very upset.
I think he is the one that this happened to.
Again I can not blame the driver. He should not be required to have to know anything able wheelchair tie down systems. The only thing that should be happening is that the buses be equipped with the proper automatic ratchets and hooks.
Another thing. Some of these buses old equipment is so faulty that often when drivers try to attach the ratchet that goes on the floor in the isle. Those ratchets can not and will not stay secured to the floor. This is happening because the bolts on the ratchets have become bent over many years of use and no proper maintenance being done. Also the hole in the floor that have metal covers over them have a steel slot for the ratchets bolt. Those holes are often filled with dirt so the bolt can not be put in all the way. Also many of these steel slots have become rusted and corroded from all the rain and salt from winter condition off the peoples feet.
Now another thing that happens, is that passengers on the buses who are delayed by all these problems with securing the wheelchairs and the delays. Get pissed off and take it out on the disabled wheelchair users. Passengers over time have grown to show contempt for the hassles associated with all the problems that have been brought on by Halifax Metro Transits Management Negligence and incompetence.
While were at it. Here are couple more thoughts for you. I have often witnessed problems with drivers trying to lower the wheelchair ramp. Many times the ramp almost hits people who are walking by or towards the bus. Because the people think when they hear the BEEP BEEP that it is only the bus lowering. So many times the drivers have to yell or signal for people to wait. But often people have no idea that there is a wheelchair coming off the bus. Because the drivers always lower the ramp before unhooking the chair. So passengers outside do not have any way to know that the beeping is for a wheelchair.
Long ago I suggested to metro transit that for safety reasons that they use a different sounding beeper for the ramps. But again Metro transit does not care about the safety of people and does not care about all the delays caused by the ramp. The drivers so often have to stop and restart the ramp because people are so often walking into it or on it.
So now when the bus stops and opens its doors. Every driver has gone through this many times in the course of a day. It is so frustrating for drivers. They need to have passengers wait before getting on the bus. So the driver can let the wheelchair off. This is especially important when the buses are full. If these ramps had a different buzzer the people outside would immediately learn to and know to wait. It needs to be understood that drivers do not like to have to scream repeatedly at people outside to wait. The drivers have to raise their voices because the people outside can not hear the drivers due to noise.
Also if the driver lets go of the button to lower the ramp. The beep also stops. This beep should always continue to sound the warning when the ramp is moving or in the extended position. So while the ramp is down on the sidewalk it continues to sound a warning. This would also warn people that they can not board until the beeping stops. Many times I have seen many passengers board the bus while the driver is down in a proned and vulnerable position. If the ramp signal continued to sound warning passengers that they can neither board or disembark while it is sounding would be a great feature for everyone involved.
Drivers always let go of the button when the ramp reached the half way point where it will continue going down by itself due to gravity. This is dangerous because at this point the ramp is not visible to people trying to get by the passengers who are standing back and waiting. If the driver then leaves his seat as the ramp is going down. Which the drivers often do when they are very busy and rushed. I have seen people actually walk into the side of the ramp as they were walking by quickly between the bus and the passengers waiting. The driver can not avoid this if he lets go of the button and takes his eyes off the ramp.
If metro transit had respectful and competent hard working management that would listen to me and other disabled people. All these safety and efficiency situations could of been solved long ago.
See this related post about the ramps.
I understand that drivers are people just like the passengers. So over a very long time of complete incompetence by management. Everyone hates dealing with wheelchairs. Metro transit is doing everything deliberately to not allow wheelchairs on buses. which why all the NOVA Buses do not have the necessary four tie downs for wheelchairs.. It has been deliberate.
Another note about NOVA buses. Metro transit has some older NOVA buses. Each and everyone of these older buses were originally made to carry wheelchairs. But each and everyone of these buses were deemed to have very serious manufacturing defects pertaining to the wheelchair features, so that everyone of the older NOVA buses were banned from accepting wheelchairs. So this proves that Metro transit has always known that never has NOVA buses ever made any of there buses to properly work for wheelchairs. But yet for the past three years Halifax metro transit has been buying only and very many new NOVA buses. Halifax Metro transit is knowingly purchasing NOVA buses that never been safe for wheelchairs. This is no accident in judgment. This to me appears to be deliberate, and I would not be surprised if some officials are receiving pay-offs to keep buying they unsafe and defectively built buses. When is someone going to do an investigation into this huge and very expensive scandal?
Also I have been in contact with the federal governments transportation department and they advised me that they would put a team onto this to investigate why has NOVA been permitted to sell buses to public transit systems that are defective and dangerous for the health and security of wheelchair users.
If management had competently taken care of the little problems over time.
These little problems would not have developed into huge problems.
The huge problems are that
THEY ARE DENYING WHEELCHAIR USERS THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL ON PUBLIC TRANSIT.
Oh and why are they charging full fares for wheelchair users? Why are they charging any fares? And especially.
Why should I pay full fare when I only have access to about two percent of the buses.
If you go to my wheelchairrights website you will find many previous reports, articles and even videos of the history of what metro transit has been doing to me and all other disabled wheelchair users.
This report clearly shows how inhumane and criminal Metro transit management and the government has been towards me.
They are denying me all of my human rights to be able to live a free life like everyone else takes for granted.
So now, is the Bus drivers union going to take responsibility for the job they have to make sure that everyone they drive around is safe in their buses?
If I was a professional driver that drove passengers around I would demand that Halifax Metro Transit Authority be held accountable for endangering wheelchair users and denying wheelchair users access to buses that can be used safely.
At present most wheelchair users unlike me have long ago given up the fight with the most ignorant officials of Halifax Metro Transit, The City and Provincial officials…
Every levels of governments from Municipal, Provincial and Federal have been complicit in this scandal, the violations of human rights and of the endangering of bus passengers.
So when are all you people involved in these crimes going to stop making excuses and when are you going to start listen to the victims like me, of your criminal conspiracy to deliberately deny the disabled wheelchair users the ability to be able to go on any and all public transit buses?
Oh again also, lets not over look all the coach buses that travel all over this country. Why is it that none of those companies provide not even one wheelchair accessible bus. I do not expect that all the coaches be equipped for wheelchairs. But I would expect that a minimum number are, so that wheelchair users would be able to travel around in this country. Even the air lines have no way to facilitate my large wheelchair. So since I have become disabled, not once in the past three years have I been able to go see my daughters that live far away in Nova Scotia. Not only can I not travel around in Halifax. I can not even go anywhere else in this country.
I am pleading for the bus drivers union for compassion and understanding.
I and every other wheelchair user needs your humanity and help….
Signed Daniel J Towsey
A Truth Soldier
By the way. The government pays people great amounts of money to research and write reports like this one.
It would be so wonderful if they employed me as an advisor for issues pertaining to the needs of disabled people.
Here is the link to the NOVA bus issues. This report prove that Metro Transit is knowingly and deliberately negligent in their responsibility not to violate the human rights of wheelchair users.