September 11, 2015 - 8:00 PM
KELOWNA – A local mother says B.C. Transit has brushed aside her complaints one of their drivers verbally abused her and another was driving dangerously.
Carrie Watson, 43, had just left an event at the Parkinson Recreation Centre with her five-year-old daughter the evening of Aug. 29. They boarded the 97 bus headed downtown where they would transfer to West Kelowna.
Watson was seated at the front of the bus near the driver, her daughter was standing.
“This lady (bus driver) just tore a strip off of me telling me I was a bad mom for letting her stand. She went on and on while my daughter cried,” she says. “There are times when they expect us to stand, this time they expected us to sit but my little girl didn’t understand. I was told I was a bad mother and should have known to put her down in her seat properly.”
Shaken, Watson debussed at her stop and boarded another headed for West Kelowna.
“This time we sat at back of bus,” she says. “There were two little girls standing near me and the driver saw them and slammed on his brakes harder than I’ve ever felt before. I went flying and the little girls hit the back of the seat in front of them. I am accusing that driver of trying to knock kids off their feet. It was too hard a stop.”
Complaints against bus drivers are fairly common in Kelowna.
A 2015 customer satisfaction survey in April showed only 41 per cent of users consider Kelowna bus drivers to be courteous, well below the system-wide average of 51 per cent and below Kamloops at 56 per cent. Only 46 per cent said they feel safe riding a Kelowna bus, also below the system-wide average of 55 per cent. Fewer than one-third of users say the system is improving.
Watson says she understands that most drivers do their best to provide safe and courteous service, but says B.C. Transit might improve if they took complaints like hers seriously. She says she tried to register her concerns through this website but was unable due to a limited amount of characters she could use in the form.
“They don’t even want to know the full incident,” she says. “That page is the only thing we have to feel safe and make our voice heard and it feels insulting to expect me to get it all accurately in 250 characters.”
In July a small group of women took to social media to complain their concerns with Kelowna bus drivers were also being ignored. The women describe situation ranging from rude to dangerous and say they happen more frequently.
Watson says she did eventually hear back from a B.C. Transit employee who told her the person she needed to speak with was away for the week. Watson believes this is just one of the ways they keep people from giving them negative feedback.
“I had a complaint about a dangerous driver and it took twelve days for them to call me back,” she says. “I was scared. It was dangerous. The driver is still driving.”
B.C. Transit has not responded to Infonews.ca's request for an inteview.
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