TransLink: ‘We did drop the ball’

TransLink says it didn't respond to local teen's complaint that buses are passing him by because he's in a wheelchair.

Brenden Parker

Brenden Parker

TransLink is investigating complaints from a local high school student with cerebral palsy who says buses aren’t picking him up because he’s in a wheelchair.

Brenden Parker, a Grade 12 student at Clayton Heights Secondary, says twice in recent weeks the bus has stopped at the stop across from his school, only to shut the doors and drive off without him after picking up other passengers.

The latest incident happened on Oct. 3, when Parker, educational assistant Terry England, and another student were waiting for the C70, a route served by a wheelchair-accessible bus equipped with a lift. They were on their way to the Willowbrook Mall in Langley, where Parker and the other student were expected for their work placement assignments. They are raising money for the food bank as part of the Fare Fight for Food campaign and take the community shuttle several times a week.

The driver that morning stopped at the bus stop, let a fourth passenger aboard, only to shut the doors and drive off, leaving Parker, England and the other student with their mouths hanging open in shock.

“The three of us stood there, looking at each other, stunned,” he said.

The students missed their work placement appointment, but the incident was the last straw for Parker, who says he’s angry and looking for answers. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, he says.

BrendenWhen the bus came back half an hour later on its return trip, Parker, England and teacher Sheri Montgomery were there to confront the driver, who offered excuses, including that he did not see them waiting, according to Parker, who remains skeptical, as does England, who stands 6 foot 3.

“Isn’t that your job?” England wondered. “I kind of vented at the guy.”

The same thing happened a couple of weeks ago, according to Montgomery, BASES department head at Clayton Heights, who immediately complained to TransLink, but never heard back.

So when the bus left Parker on the curbside again, they decided to contact local media in hopes of getting answers.

Last Friday, a supervisor from the Surrey Transit Centre went to the school to take a statement, promising to look into Parker’s complaints.

TransLink spokesperson Derek Zabel confirmed a Sept. 21 complaint from the school was not followed up on.

“We did drop the ball on that,” Zabel said. “Normally, a complaint like this, we would consider priority one” and should have received a response within 48 hours.

“That didn’t happen in this case,” he said.

Now that the transit centre official has met with Parker, the next step will be to interview the bus driver as part of the investigation.

“Any serious incident deemed by the employer could result in serious consequences,” Zabel added.

Customers can file complaints through TransLink’s customer relations department.

“People with mobility issues – we take that as a priority one complaint and we do investigate that right away.”

Parker, meanwhile, says the situation has been going on for the past five years.

He says he and other classmates in wheelchairs have been passed up by the big buses, too.

Wheelchair accessible liftParker, a slightly-built boy with light brown eyes, laughs when he’s nervous, so a bright, sunny smile doesn’t necessarily mean all is well.

It’s obviously frustrating and disappointing to be passed by when passengers who aren’t in wheelchairs are able to board without incident.

“I always make eye contact with the drivers when I’m waiting, to make sure they see me,” he told The Reporter during the trip to the bus stop the following morning.

When the bus arrived at 9:15 a.m., Parker was able to board, a process that does take several minutes.

The driver climbed out of his seat, walked around to the back doors of the shuttle, and operated the lift once Parker’s wheelchair had been moved into place.

The extra time it takes for passengers in wheelchairs to board is factored in, according to Zabel, who said if an operator has a route with a lot of wheelchair customers “then the bus runs late.”

Whatever the outcome of the investigation, “We won’t be letting these incidents slide,” says Parker’s teacher, Sheri Montgomery.

“If it happens here, it happens elsewhere,” she added.

Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Just Posted

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
Lorraine Gibson, 90, received a COVID-19 immunization at the South Surrey Park and Ride vaccination clinic. (File photo: Aaron Hinks)
Surrey has had 25% of B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases

Surrey recorded 4,012 cases in May

Scales of Justice, Image courtesy Creative Outlet
Scales of Justice, Image courtesy Creative Outlet
Teacher’s elbow injury case against Surrey School District, WorkSafeBC struck by judge

Judge says processes put in place by legislation, collective agreement must be followed

Doris Anderson’s digital triptych Aberration, which she is marketing as an NFT.
Semiahmoo Peninsula abstract painter dives into NFT market

Works sold as one-of-a-kind digital files

Vancouver law courts. (File photo)
Surrey murderer loses appeal in 2011 Christmas eve shooting in Newton

Bradley McPherson, 28, was shot in the back of the head during an after-hours house party

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

The rainbow flag flies beside the Canadian flag outside the University of the Fraser Valley’s Chilliwack campus on June 26, 2020. Monday, June 14, 2021 is Flag Day, and also June is Pride Month. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Most Read