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UPDATE: Chilliwack mom has stroller warning for local transit users – BC Transit has tips
A young Chilliwack mother wants to warn others with strollers that if you get the wrong bus driver in the wrong circumstance, you might just get stranded.
Sasha Selby's trip from her Sardis Park home to Harvest Café with her two young children last Thursday started out as good as possible.
Selby got on the bus in front of Sardis elementary, helped on by a friendly bus driver.
"He was the nicest guy ever," she told the Times Monday.
The kids were excited by their first ever bus ride. There was even someone with balloons on the bus adding to the positive experience for the one- and two-year-olds.
The three of them had a lovely dinner at Harvest, then she packed up a box of treats — cupcakes, donuts, cookies — ready to head home to build a couch fort and watch movies.
The perfect family day, while dad was off at his job as a firefighter in Vancouver, was going great. Then they headed for the bus ride back home again. And that's when things went sour, she said.
She waited with about four other people for the bus at the stop near the Telus building on Yale. It started to rain lightly, which was fine.
"I love the rain, it wasn't a big deal," Selby said.
When the bus arrived, she started to wheel her stroller on as she had a few hours earlier on Vedder Road, but she was met with a look and an attitude that was unmistakable.
Then she was simply told the stroller was too big.
"He was really annoyed that I was getting on that bus," she said. "I just wanted to get home with my kids."
Selby said the bus driver told her he was already six minutes late, there were three other people behind her, one with a single stroller, so she retreated.
"I was embarrassed," she said. "So I started walking."
Then it really started to rain. The kids were crying, she was crying and her treats were destroyed.
Without a cellphone, she walked to Shoppers Drug Mart where helpful staff let her use a phone to call her grandmother, and even let her keep her stroller there when her ride home couldn't fit it.
Selby complained to BC Transit about her experience. She said she got a response that they were sorry, and an offer of a day pass for the bus, something she said made no sense given the uncertainty about her being allowed on with her stroller.
But BC Transit public relations in Victoria said the driver did everything right, and it was Selby's fault for not folding up her stroller.
"[We] feel the operator did his best to accommodate the parent with the double stroller under challenging circumstances," BC Transit corporate spokesperson Meribeth Burton told the Times via email. "In this particular circumstance, our operator says he asked the mom to fold the large stroller so that she could board safely. There were two other strollers on the bus at the time. I understand the mother chose not to fold up the stroller and chose not to take transit."
Selby responded that is absolutely false.
"I would have folded it happily," she said.
So how is it that a woman with a one- and a two-year-old, who was let on the bus a few hours before, would be rejected from getting on a bus in the pouring rain, the Times asked?
"The customer was not rejected," Burton said. "She was asked to fold the stroller and chose not to."
In a follow-up call, Burton was asked how many strollers are allowed on a local bus.
"It depends on the configuration," Burton said. "If there is a wheelchair in priority [seating], two maybe. . . . It depends on how big we are talking."
So do circumstances matter? The time of day? The weather?
Burton said "common sense" is employed.
And what of Selby's claims that the driver said he was already late; would that force a driver to reject a passenger with a stroller?
"It's entirely possible he was asking for a timely decision, I don't know," she said, adding that he is a valued employee who "feels terrible" about the situation.
"His bosses believe him and that's what I'm telling you"
As for Selby, she doesn't want anything. She is embarrassed about the publicity, and she doesn't want a free pass. She just feels that parents with strollers should be made aware that they might not get on the bus, even in Chilliwack where buses rarely if ever run at capacity.
BC Transit's Guidelines for Baby Strollers
In order for a customer to use BC Transit, the stroller:
• Should be collapsible
• Cannot exceed 2 feet by 4 feet (24 inches by 48 inches or 60.96 cm by 121.92 cm)
• Must be kept clear of the aisles (the width of the distance between the normal seats, not the width of the accessible area)
For safety reasons, strollers are not permitted to use the lifts or securement devices. Securements on the buses are for scooters and wheelchairs only.
Travelling On the Bus with a Baby Stroller
When travelling on a bus with a baby stroller, please:
• Position the stroller in an unoccupied wheelchair location with the brakes set
• Hold onto the stroller at all times
When wheelchair positions are occupied or required by another customer, we ask for your consideration and cooperation by folding your stroller and moving to another seat. Please store your stroller in between the seats.
If the bus is not a low floor bus, the child must be removed from the stroller, the stroller collapsed and secured between the seats, and the child held onto at all times during the trip