December 23, 2015 - 7:00 PM
VERNON - A North Okanagan woman is sharing her experience after being told she couldn’t board a public transit bus without a car seat for her baby.
Chelsey Dyer planned to take the Route 60 bus into Vernon from her Armstrong home last week to pick up her car, but wasn’t allowed on.
“The driver informed me children under the age of two, there’s a new rule that they’re not allowed on the bus without a car seat,” Dyer says.
While not a regular rider, Dyer has taken the same bus in the past with her son and had never heard of the rule before.
“I phoned Vernon Transit and they informed me the bus driver did what he was supposed to do,” she says. “Then my partner phoned B.C. Transit in Vancouver and they had no knowledge of the rule. We couldn’t find a clear answer.”
It’s an unusual situation, and one B.C. Transit spokesperson John Barry admits he’s never run into before.
It turns out the reason mothers like Dyer have to have a car seat with them has to do with whether or not the bus has seat-belts.
“It seems odd to people, but the Motor Vehicle Act says if a vehicle has seat-belts, they are required to wear them, and the driver is required to ensure young children are properly secured,” Barry says.
Most public transit busses don’t heave seat-belts, but some smaller and medium-sized ones, like handyDARTs do.
The reason the rules seemed to change overnight for Dyer is likely because a new bus hit the road within the past month — and it came with seat-belts. It’s the type of bus that gets used often for custom transit, but rarely for regular routes, Barry says. B.C. Transit is now looking into the possibility of having the seat-belts removed so car seats will no longer be mandatory.
Dyer understands the bus driver was just doing his job, but wishes B.C. Transit had done more to inform riders about the change. Due to the inconvenience, she was unable to pick up her car that day and missed a doctor’s appointment for her son.
“We’ve been relying on the local operator to communicate that with passengers,” Barry says. “Frankly, we could have done a better job at communicating.”
B.C. Transit will be posting a customer alert to inform riders about requirements for riding the bus. Route 60 is believed to be the only bus in the North Okanagan with seat-belts.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015