“Women’s movement should not be limited by the whims of irritable bus drivers.”

I am reporting this story with the permission of the woman who told it to me.

One day, during a particularly congested traffic jam, she hopped a bus at campus station to make it downtown for law internship responsibilities. She was on a tight time line and the bus began moving at a crawl. It was approximately fifteen minutes for the bus to make it from “campus” to “laurier”.

Being in a bit of a rush, the woman, who was at this particular point the ONLY passenger on the bus, asked the driver if she could get off, thinking that it would be quicker for her to walk than to continue to wait it out.

The driver refused to let her out. The buses were moving at a crawl and she was the only person on the bus. She said that there were a few inches of space between the buses.

It was clear to her that this was not a safety issue for the bus driver, nor was it a matter of inconvenience or trying to manage the riders on the bus. She felt that it was a power struggle between her and the driver.

She was frustrated and felt powerless. She felt like she had no control over the situation. She felt like she had been arbitrarily detained.

This is absolutely unacceptable considering that OC Transpo drivers are supposed to let women get out at stops closer to their homes if it is more comfortable/safer for them. No one should be forced to stay on the bus like that if there is no good reason. It raises serious safety concerns for women in situations where they are being harassed on the bus and cannot escape. Women’s movement should not be limited by the whims of irritable bus drivers.

Holla! Team Note: We wanted to clarify that the ‘Safe Stop Program’, which allows people to get off at an alternate stop along a route, is only in effect after 7pm.

For more information about Safe Stop, check out OC Transpo’s website.

As with all experiences of harassment on transit, you can also file a complaint directly with OC Transpo, should you feel comfortable.