Brenden Parker expects better from his bus drivers.
Instead of picking him up at the bus stop, like they’re supposed to do, some Coast Mountain drivers on the C70 route have been blowing right on by Parker, making him late for work and feeling pretty crappy to boot.
Parker is a Grade 12 student at Clayton Heights Secondary school. He has cerebral palsy, and gets around in a motorized wheelchair.
Twice within the past two weeks, bus drivers have left him in the dust at the bus stop on 188th Street in front of his school, and he wants to know why.
“I feel mad,” he says.
Recently, he missed a work experience opportunity at Willowbrook shopping mall because he wasn’t picked up. He said he, his teacher and education assistant later confronted the driver on his return trip past the school.
“He had all sorts of excuses,” Parker said, “including that he did not see us. It begs the question how a person whose job it is to pick people up, cannot see a full-grown man, a person in a wheelchair and my fellow student standing right in front of the bus stop bench.
“How many times has this sort of thing happened to other physically disabled people in my situation? I am angry and looking for some answers.”
TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said TransLink is investigating the complaints.
“We take these matters very seriously,” he said. “We’re in the people business.
“Our operators are expected to be professional and do as they were trained at all times,” Zabel added.
Parker’s education assistant, Terry England, stands six feet three inches tall.
“He knew we were there,” he said of the driver.
England said one of the drivers actually picked a woman up at the stop and took off, leaving himself and Parker dumbfounded.
“He closes the doors and takes off,” he said. “We’re both looking shocked.”
Parker’s mom, Sandra Parker, said a similar thing happened to her son along another bus route in North Surrey in August.
“He’s frustrated. We’re very frustrated,” she said. “These bus drivers are able to get away with it, I guess.”
To be fair, some C70 bus drivers are picking up students with disabilities. The Now watched one driver stop, lower her ramp and help Parker aboard her bus on Friday morning.
A few minutes later, another driver heading the opposite way also helped a student with a disability board her bus.
Sheri Montgomery, Parker’s teacher, is proud of him for sticking up for himself.
“They’re denying students with disabilities the right to access their community,” she said of bus drivers who aren’t picking them up. “It’s disheartening. This isn’t isolated.”
“Two in two weeks and how many last year where we just didn’t have the effort.”
Montgomery said she’s heard some drivers let the air out of their equipment so that when they stop, their ramp won’t go down.
Added England, “We’ve had drivers say they don’t even know how to do it. They avoid it.”