Why do you hate WiW (Women in Wheelchairs)

I live in DC, where the buses and metro are often crowded during rush hour.  You know what?  It happens!  Deal with it!  People need to get home and thankfully they chose to take public transportation instead of driving a car and thankfully the public transportation exists for those of us who don’t have cars.  And guess what? Different types of people ride busses!  Because differnt types of people choose to take public transportation and different types of people don’t have cars. 

This afternoon, during rush hour, I took a bus I don’t normally take – a bus that runs rarely and is often very crowded.  On this particular afternoon, as we pulled up to this particular bus stop, there were people standing on the bus, but we weren’t yet at the in-each-other’s-armpits stage yet.  So we pull up to the bus stop and there is a woman in a wheel chair waiting for the bus.  The driver opens the door…

Driver: Sorry, we’re full. I can’t let you on

Woman: WHAT?

Driver: There’s no room. I can’t let you on.

Woman: You have to!

Driver: I can’t.

Woman: I have a RIGHT to ride this bus!  Let me on!

He closes the door. We’re at a red light, so we can’t pull away.  I am standing in the front of the bus, approximately where the woman would secure her chair. 

Me:  I’ll get off.  Let me off.

Another Woman: Me too, I’ll get off.

Driver: I can’t ask you to get off, there’s no room.

He won’t open the door.

Me:  I WANT to get off.

Other woman: Me too. 

Driver: I can’t ask you to get off.

Meanwhile, the woman outside the bus has wheeled her chair in front of the bus.  I can’t hear her, but the driver begins to yell at her. 

Driver: Get out of the WAY!  I can’t let you on the bus! 

As the woman inside the bus and I are beginning to make our way to the door, he pulls around the woman outside, never opening the door, constantly refusing to let us off.

I am sickened by the absolutely LACK of understanding on the part of the driver.  The woman at the stop needed a ride.  She might have been waiting there for more than half an hour, if other buses as crowded has also refused her.  And she now has to wait another half an hour for the next bus, which also might refuse her.  I understand that he didn’t want to ask some passengers to leave to let another passenger on, but when some passengers are ASKING to get out, and are effectively refused, that goes beyond the pale. 

Does anyone know the legality of this issue?  I’m not up on my ADA or transportation regulations.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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