Saturday, April 30, 2011


Upon arrival home I received and email with the intriguing caption 'What would Hingsburger do?' I opened it and found the following email. I loved what Janna did and wrote for permission to print the whole email. She gave it to me. Here's the email which includes the kind of complaint letter that I love ... Kudos to Janna!!

Hey Dave,

A friend and I had another "what would Hingsburger do" kind of moment re: access to transit for those with disabilities.

I lacked the balls to confront the bus driver at the time, but I did contact VIVA to file a complaint and write a letter to the editor... Maybe next time I'll make more of a spectacle, but for now, thanks for your energy/inspiration. I'm getting there....

Also, keep writing; I love the blog!



Letter to the Editor:

Today (29 April 2011) I witnessed a man in a wheelchair being refused* entry onto a VIVA bus (heading north from the Finch Station to Newmarket Terminal). He had paid the same fare and waited the same time as all of the able-bodied people at the stop. He even had a woman advocating for him: informing the bus driver that there was a man in a wheelchair waiting to board.

All of this was to no avail. The driver simply drove away, announcing to those on the bus (not to the man subjected to the treatment) that he could catch the next one.

With that example in mind, I would like to make a few suggestions to York Region Transit:

First, I suggest putting signs up indicating that buses are for able bodied people only. Signage could include a slogan reading “If you can’t walk, you can’t ride,” or a picture of a person in a wheel chair crossed out (inferring that being in a wheelchair is as taboo as smoking on the bus).

I would also suggest issuing first class tickets for those who are able-bodied. The second class citizens (ie. those with disabilities) would probably be grateful to be discriminated against if they could save a nickel or two. This would, however, work best if there could be a loud speaker (similar to an airport) announcing when it’s time for the normal able-bodied people to board and informing the second class citizens that they may have to wait another ten minutes or so assuming the next driver is willing to stop for them.

Next, I would advise taking down the signage encouraging people to give their seats to the elderly or those with special needs. These signs could easily be replaced by ableist propaganda or signs informing riders that the bus doesn’t give a shit about the right of persons with disabilities to access adequate transportation or to be free from discrimination.

As a last resort, if none of those suggestions work, I would encourage York Region Transit to consider how it would feel to be left behind at a bus stop, to consider that hierarchy is bad for those at the bottom as well as those at the top, and to consider making their services for humans. All humans.

Janna Payne

Richmond Hill, ON
*synonyms for refused: rejected, denied, shunned.


Andrea S. said...

Love the letter! I hope the sarcasm helps get the message through to the intended targets.

Sher said...

Excellent! The message is clear! Brava.

Kristine said...

Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

Well written....message is loud and clear!!! GOOD FOR YOU!!! Disgusting circumstance though!!

Noisyworld said...

Wow, brilliant letter :)
I don't blame you Janna for not "causing a scene" at the busstop, you need more courage than a normal human can muster to acheive that.
I hope you will let us know if there's a (useful/helpful/ or even respectful would do!)reply from the company.
Fingers crossed they'll be ashamed.

Hannah Ensor said...


Anonymous said...

After taking the bus for years in York Region.. I find it very hard to believe the situation happened exactly as was explained in this letter. I'm sorry I just don't buy it. Perhaps he did not board that bus, but there is obviously more to the story that was held back in order for the disabled rider look like the saint.

Unknown said...

You are right the situation didn't happen exactly as explained in the letter-- a handful of people would have had to move to the back of the bus to accommodate the "saint" parked outside.