Dec. 12, 2019 – Daniel Sands, a two-spirit person, says they have faced discrimination from BC Transit since they started using a wheelchair this year. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Dec. 12, 2019 – Daniel Sands, a two-spirit person, says they have faced discrimination from BC Transit since they started using a wheelchair this year. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria resident accuses BC Transit of repeated discrimination since transitioning to a wheelchair

Daniel Sands says they are often not allowed on buses, even when there is room

A Victoria resident says they’ve faced discrimination on local transit buses since beginning to use a wheelchair less than a year ago.

After Daniel Sands, who is a two-spirited person and uses the they/them pronoun, went through chemotherapy they developed severe asthma and shortness of breath. Using a wheelchair, they said, helps them lead a more normal life.

This includes the normalcy of using the bus to get around town. However, since transitioning to a wheelchair Sands said they have noticed discrimination from bus drivers.

“It’s quite new to me and I guess that’s why it’s glaringly obvious,” Sands said. “Before I had the privilege of not ever facing these situations.”

Most commonly Sands will have drivers tell them there’s no room on the bus for the chair, even when they can see that there is. Sands, who takes the bus up to six times per day, has very frequently been passed by with the wave of a hand.

ALSO READ: Access – A day in the life using a wheelchair in Victoria

“It’s one thing if it’s a full bus and no one is allowed on, that’s fair. But if other people are let on and I’m not then that’s a problem,” Sands said. “That’s institutional ableism.”

If he can convince a driver to let down the ramp, Sands can always find room. Sands’ chair is a manual one, and takes up about the same space as a person.

While BC Transit offers HandyDART services, Sands’ bus pass only works on standard buses. Additionally, HandyDART buses need reservations, sometimes up to two weeks in advance.

On a standard bus there are two spots at the front where a wheelchair can be parked, which are often full of able-bodied people.

ALSO READ: B.C. Transit saves $300,000, scores 28 used fareboxes idle in California

When they can get on, Sands fears that drivers force straps onto his chair, something Sands finds anxiety-inducing, especially after straps have been improperly applied and resulted in the chair sliding.

“How would you feel if someone came and forcefully tied you to your seat?” Sands said. “I also have asked them not to strap me in because I face so many physical barriers throughout the day that adding another one on purpose and without my consent is like adding insult to injury.”

BC Transit requires wheelchairs to always use a strap in forward facing positions, and in rear-facing positions unless there’s an anti-tipping device installed on the seat.

The whole situation has given Sands a lot of anxiety about using the bus, and for awhile they avoided leaving the house at certain times of the day to avoid high-traffic situations.

ALSO READ: Access – Technology lags for people with vision, hearing impairments

Sands has reported the issue many times to BC Transit, and estimates he’s called about 20 times in the last four months, with supervisors telling them they’d pass the message along to BC Transit trainers. Since the complaints were put in, Sands has not seen any changes.

In an emailed statment, BC Transit said they are aware of the complaints.

“We are sorry for this customer’s experience with transit, and are working directly with the customer. …We expect all of our staff to be professional with customers,” said BC Transit spokesperson Jonathon Dyck in an emailed statement. “Our drivers do their best to encourage customers to move back but we also strongly encourage our customers on board to move to the back of the bus in order to accommodate as many passengers as possible.”

Recently Sands expressed disagreement with a bus driver about the sitution of room on the bus.

“The driver proceeded to call me a trouble maker, and that all the other drivers know me as a trouble maker. The driver said this in front of all the other passengers. He was trying to embarrass and invalidate me,” Sands said. “I’ve got to speak up and if that makes me a trouble maker that’s fine. I’ll take it.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

BC TransitdisabilitiesDisability

Just Posted

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

The Vancouver Island marmot is an endangered species. Pictured here, a marmot at Mount Washington. (Black Press file)
‘Frisky’ Vancouver Island marmots caught on camera

Cameras catching Vancouver Island Marmot activity that is sparking hope for endangered species

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations celebrate legal victory in fishing dispute

Ha’oom Fisheries Society and T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries announce “major legal victory”

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations with RV hook-ups

The hiring of out-of-province workers by the Canadian Red Cross to staff the vaccination centre in Langford has raised eyebrows. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Cross hires out-of-B.C. workers to staff Island vaccination centre

Staffer worries local jobs weren’t offered to local people

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

One person has been arrested following an assault on a man with Down syndrome along Dallas Road April 17. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man with Down syndrome attacked along Victoria’s Dallas Road

Suspected assailant arrested, sent to hospital for mental health assessment

Victoria police arrested a wanted man April 19, seizing drugs, firearms and body armour. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Drugs, loaded weapons, body armour seized from Victoria suite

Man was wanted for the possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Most Read