THUNDER BAY, ON ------ July 3, 2014 --- Letter by Tracy L. Hurlbert to Thunder Bay City Council regarding Transit policy of Disallowing wheel chair bound citizens to sit facing forward in spite of Doctors letter,
I am writing to you in regards to a situation that happened to me on June 30. I was at City Hall, trying to catch the last James bus to get home, but it was one of the newer ones with a rear-facing wheelchair access bay. (Bus number 176 at 11:40) I CANNOT ride backwards, due to medical issues. I have a certificate from my doctor stating that I cannot ride backwards, in any situation! I was denied service due to my disability, despite the fact that I have a monthly bus pass for which I had paid $63.50. The driver & controller both told me that I could ride the Mainline Westfort & walk 6 blocks or the Airport & cross Arthur Street at night in my chair or walk home. When I told them I can’t, I was told that I was being unreasonable & putting them in an unreasonable situation. The driver actually said that I shouldn’t have stayed out so late. That is NONE OF HIS BUSINESS! Would he say that to an able-bodied customer? Certainly not! They were the ones being unreasonable, not me. Why should I risk neurological injury, a seizure, or a back & neck injury just to please them? Crossing Arthur Street is dangerous when there is no crosswalk & the police told me not to cross there. I have a vision disability & they are concerned I’ll get hit. As for walking home along Walsh Street at night for 6 blocks, that is not something safe, either. Some of those sidewalks are in bad shape & some of the curb cuts are still pretty rough. I cannot see which ones are safe, especially at night.
Please watch this video and hear Tracy in her own words what happen
Why is it OK for Transit to treat me, & other people who have a disability, like second-class citizens? I cannot ride Lift. The suspension is too poor & I injure my neck, back & hips. (I actually had a huge bruise on my hip & dislocated it when we hit a pothole that I barely even notice when on Thunder Bay Transit buses.) Whenever I ride, even just a short distance, I have to take painkillers. My doctor advised me to only take Lift as a last resort. He’s had other patients who have told him how bumpy a ride they get on the Lift vans. I ride the regular bus from one end of town to the other & am FINE. In over 20 years, the only time I had to take pain meds was when I rode backwards on a new bus. I’m not the only person who has this issue. I’ve spoken with many others who say their necks hurt & they are dizzy when they ride those buses backwards.
This is the final year I will do any volunteer work for the City. If I cannot be sure that I’ll have a ride I can trust to get to my job & home again, it’s not worth it. Why am I doing so much for a city that treats me like a second-class citizen? Perhaps a first-class citizen (able-bodied) can take over. It’s got to the point where I’ve actually advised other people who have a disability not to move here, unless they have their own vehicle and I suggested they move elsewhere if they want equal access to playgrounds, facilities, etc.
Please be advised that I am going to the Human Rights Commission to file a suit against the City of Thunder Bay & Thunder Bay Transit for denial of service, due to my disability. I’m sorry it has come to this, but nothing else is working.
Please note: The controller did find me a ride THIS TIME. Last time, I had to walk home from Bay & Algoma to Kingsway! I had to walk alone in the dark from coffee shop to coffee shop. (to charge my chair.)
Tracy L. Hurlbert