Wilfred Hurst says he was standing at the bus stop in Williams Lake Friday, with two bags: one large black garbage bag tied up, and a smaller clear plastic bag, both full of empty bottles to take to the recycling depot, when he was refused entry on a city bus.
The 62-year-old lives at the seniors housing complex at Westridge, and says the public transit system in Williams Lake is the main way he gets around.
“The bus driver stopped, looked at the bag of empties and closed the door,” he said. “He said ‘I can’t take the empties.'”
The driver, he said, told him he had to keep the hallway clean.
BC Transit says that it is up to the driver’s discretion for what is allowed on the bus.
“Our general guidelines are that people can bring different types of items on the bus, however the bags have to be clean and so it can’t be dripping because then what happens is you get on the bus and it’s dripping,” said Jonathon Dyck, the communications manager with BC Transit.
He says the policy is that bags have to be closed, and can’t block the isles for safety reasons, so need to be contained within the space of the passenger.
“At the end of the day it’s up to the discretion of the driver to determine if the bags are appropriate to be on the bus, so the drivers do look at it on a case by case basis.”
Hurst said it’s not the first time he’s taken empties on the bus, but it’s the first time he’s been refused.
“What would have happened if I was at Walmart with 15 bags of groceries? Is he going to tell me he can’t drive me home?”
Hurst said he wants an explanation for why he was refused service.
He said he called to complain, but was simply asked if the bottles were clean – which he says they were – and if they were in a clear bag.
Dyck said that they encourage people with questions or comments about the transit system to call or send an email through BC Transit’s contact us form, and often they will follow up internally.
Otherwise, he encourages passengers to speak with the driver if they have any questions or concerns about what they are bringing on board.
“Public transit — I’m public and that is my only transportation from Westridge to downtown and back,” he said.
“I’m a respectful person, I greet the bus driver when I get on the bus, I say thank you when I get off.”