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 faces discrimination from BC Transit 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 they 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 their chair, something Sands finds anxiety-inducing, especially after straps have been improperly applied and resulted in their 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 they have 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 troublemaker, 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 troublemaker 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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ron MacDonnell leans over the railing on Beacon Wharf Tuesday afternoon. The Town of City is currently looking into the future of the aging structure. It could make way for a concrete pontoon once part of the floating bridge over Hood Canal in Washington State. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney explores public-private partnership for iconic Beacon Wharf

Wharf committee recommends town invite pontoon company to submit proposal

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch 94-year-old in Saanich earns permanent Canadian residency

Couple of 45 years to stay together in Cadboro Bay

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she 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
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Most Read