Metro Transit Discriminates Against Wheelchair
(Halifax Nova Scotia)
December 07, 2010
Mary Wile, Councillor
District 10-Clayton Park
From Daniel J Towsey
Please take notice that this article will be forwarded to the Nova Scotia Human
Rights Commission and also that this correspondence will be published on the
This is an open and public document.
I think it is time that you and the public be made aware of Metro Transits Discrimination against people in wheelchairs, as well as serious safety issues about the strapping in of wheelchairs on public transit buses.
I recently had a very long conversation with Dave Beaudreau, Halifax Regional
Municipality Customer Service Advisor at 490-3243.
I mentioned to Dave about the very unsafe situation about the way the wheelchairs are being strapped in.
I mentioned that most of the buses do not have proper anchoring straps with hooks.
All electric wheelchairs made for the past fifteen or more years have metal welded rings to facilitate the safe strapping down of wheelchairs.
Most straps on the buses are missing the metal hooks that should be on the straps
to hook onto the wheelchairs.
At this time the drivers are wrapping the straps around a metal tube (frame) that
supports my seat and they are also putting the straps between the two frames of my small outboard front wheels of my six wheeled wheelchair.
Then there is the issues about the dangerous seatbelt that they put around my chest and wheelchair.
In the event of a crash these seatbelt would crush me from the very heavy weight of my wheelchair pushing against me.
I have advised many drivers that I do not want nor need this seatbelt as I am already wearing my wheelchair seat belt.
Many of the ratcheting devices on the buses are defective, corroded and rusted.
Often my chair has moved and other times the ratchets failed to hold my
One time my very heavy wheelchair slid six feet into the center of the bus and just about crushed a double baby stroller with babies in it because the ratchet released my wheelchair as the bus went up a hill.
I asked Dave if they do safety inspections of the public transit buses. He Gave me a rude responce to my asking this. Then I stated that i was a professional auto
mechanicmost of my life and that I was always required to inspect seatbelt. If the
seatbelts had any defects they had to be replaced.
But Daves response indicated to me that they metro transit did not ever concern
themselves with the wheelchair tie down straps and belts.
Daves response indicates to me that he was not going to concern himself about the
safety issues I mentioned.
So my right to travel safely on public transit is being violated.
I also made him aware of most of these other issues I am about to write here.
The most important issue pertains to the title of this article.
The public is under the false impression that metro transit is treating people in
wheelchairs with dignity and respect.
The public believes that people in wheelchairs have the same access to services of metro transit as everyone else.
The public sees that most buses are now wheelchair accessible and the public
believes that all these buses are available to anyone in a wheelchair if they choose
to board the buses.
That is absolutely false and I am about to point out to you the horrible
discrimination that metro transit has towards people in wheelchairs and not to
towards anyone else.
Metro transit has a policy that wheelchair users are only allowed to board buses
that metro transit deems as wheelchair accessible routes..
But this is also very false as no one in a wheelchair is permitted to board or
disembark any bus at the Dartmouth bridge terminal.
So why is it that the routes so designated as wheelchair accessible routes do not
allow the use of the bridge terminal?
Why is it that the so called designated wheelchair buses are not pulling up to the
platform at the bridge terminal?
It has been said that the platform is on a hill.. The reasoning is that the bus ramps can not be lowered onto an unleveled surface. But the bus terminal is mostly very
level and buses can lower their ramps.
Then there is the issue that the platform is not wide enough and does not allow
enough room for the ramps and for the wheelchair to get on the ramp.
Again this is true for much of the platform but again there is a solution which is
that much of the platform does have enough room. So why not put the wheelchair
accessible routes signs for boarding at those spots?
Why not change the location of the accessible routes to the platform instead of
where they are now, which is in the driveway that does not have an elevated
As it is now.. Anyone using a wheelchair and is trying to go to Halifax or many
other destinations in Dartmouth has to go down the road at a far away road bus
stop to board a bus to Halifax or places in Dartmouth.
But this is not realistic as some routes come from Halifax and then return to
Anyone in a wheelchair can not get to most of Halifax. I myself can only board the 61 route that takes me to scotia square.
I can not get to Clayton Park, Bayers lake or the Mumford terminal, just to name a few places.
That would require me to transfer to numerous different buses. From my home to Bayers lake would take at least three and a half hours if I make the connections.
So a round trip car drive would take an hour and if I can get there by bus, it would take me close to eight hours of travel on buses.
This would not be the case if I could board buses at the Dartmouth bridge
Where I live I have to get on a different bus and then go to the Penhorn terminal,
Then to Scotia Square, then who knows how many more buses to get to Bayers
As you see people in wheelchairs are not being afforded the same public service
that everyone else receives.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Dartmouth bridge terminal.
Please understand that this is a very important terminal as it is gives access to all of Dartmouths
routes so I can not get to most places in Dartmouth because of this unaccessible
But wait it is much worse then this.
If I am at a wheelchair accessible bus stop and a wheelchair accessible bus comes
but is not designated as a wheelchair accessible route. The bus driver will not let
Even if the bus is going to where I want to go and where I want to go is a
wheelchair accessible bus stop.
This is completely unacceptable and it is discrimination.
No other persons are refused access to a bus for any reason. Only people in
wheelchairs are being refused.
This is especially terrible when it is pouring rain or freezing winds. As the 61 bus often runs only once an hour.
Also consider that because I have to wait for the buses that run only once an hour that my transfers that are good for only one and a half hours will expire before
I can get to my destination.
Because I am being told I can not board non designated wheelchair route buses.
I could give more examples of the grief that this designated route only rule causes, but I think you are now understanding what I am saying.
I really do not like being treated like a piece of trash and being told that I can not
board a wheelchair bus if I want to.
This discrimination against wheelchair users is a human rights violation.
It is a guaranteed right under the Canadian bill of rights for me to be freely able to travel anywhere I choose.
This means that public transit has to provide me with the same service that all
other taxpayers have.
Do I not have equal rights?
I am reasonable and I understand that this at this time may not yet be possible
because many of the older buses are not accessible. But that still does not mean
that anyone should be allowed to discriminate against me.
So if a bus is accessible then I have the right to board if I choose and if a space is available for my wheelchair.
If you do not agree then please explain to me why you do not agree.
I am really interested to know why you might think that I should not be allowed to board a wheelchair accessible bus.
I attended physiotherapy twice a week and when I try to go home I can not board my bus at the Dartmouth bridge terminal. I have to go to a bus stop shelter down
the street from the terminal.
But this bus stop has a bus shelter that sits on the edge of the curb. The shelter has a huge advertisement from top to bottom.
There is a tiny and narrow little platform just on the outer edge of the bus shelter where I have to sit in my wheelchair to wait for a bus.
But that huge advertisement on the bus shelter makes it impossible for me to see the buses coming and it also makes it impossible for the bus drivers to see me.
To make things worse all the buses leaving the terminal drive down the middle lane of the three lane road in front of me.
They do not drive on the curb lane.
So even if a bus driver sees me. It would be to late and to dangerous for the driver
to try and suddenly stop and then try to switch to the curb lane.
Another big difficulty is that from 3:30 tp approximately 7:30 all the buses upon
leaving the bridge terminal are full to capacity.
So that if I try to go home. I can not. I have sat there freezing for up to three and a half hours.
One day I asked a woman walking on the sidewalk if she could flag down the
Which she did. I advised her that none of the buses would stop for me and that I
The bus did stop and would not let me board.
So I went back to the bus terminal and called a metro transit supervisor. He called in an empty bus to drive me home.
I mentioned to him how when ever I try to get home that I can never get a bus.
This event occurs every time I try to get home at this location.
So the other day I was really upset. I went onto the Dartmouth Bridge terminal
platform and I loudly vent my frustration and that Metro transit was
discriminating against wheelchair users by not allowing me to board my bus at
I spkpe loud so the public would hear everything. There was allot pf people
listening to what I had to say.
This service supervisor I was speaking with.Karl Webber 476-2166 email@example.com
believed that I was screaming at him. He did not understand that I was speaking
so I would have witnesses hear what I had to say.
Karl has investigated the situation about the bus shelter down the street…
They plan on fixing the concrete pad location in the spring so I can be waiting for a bus where the drivers will see me waiting.
But that will not solve the other problems of the buses not stopping.
So again I am not being given the same access to public transit that everyone else expects and receives.
This discrimination has to stop…
Thank you for reading and for all your efforts.
I eagerly look forward to a speedy solution and elimination of these discriminatory policies at Metro Transit.
Sincerely Daniel J Towsey.
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