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Jean Ryan's Victory

EDITOR'S NOTE: Back in April, Jean Ryan reported on an ugly incident trying to board a lift-equipped New York City bus. The driver wouldn't let her board with her scooter facing forward; passengers jeered her. Now she offers a follow-up. (This is also posted as a comment at her original entry.)

by Jean Ryan.

Besides complaining to the Bus Customer Relations and ADA Compliance people at NYC Transit (I did that while I was waiting for the supervisor to come, while I was on the bus, and after I got off the bus), I wrote a detailed letter to the Metropolitan Transit Authority explaining what happened, and adding my demands and suggestions.

And they responded.

This was the first time I have gotten a letter back from the MTA that really answered my concerns/demands and was not defensive.

In the letter, the MTA apologized to me, and said that:

  • They retrained that driver and sanctioned him.
  • They re-instructed the "console"/transit control people the drivers call on what lift boarding policy is.

They are also making a poster for every bus depot, depicting a wheelchair user (me) entering forward and backward. The text on the poster says it is transit policy that we can enter whichever way we like. I volunteered my time to go to the depot one afternoon to be photographed.

Will drivers be trained that they are not to apologize to the ambulatory riders for taking on a wheelchair user?

However, they are dragging their feet on putting decals on the windows of the express buses like they have on their "regular" buses. These decals say something like "You must give up your seat to a wheelchair user."

But they have promised to put them on and eventually, I think they will. Actually, soon.

They are also dragging their feet on putting big wheelchair symbol decals on the outside of the lift door, but, again, they have promised to put them an and eventually, I think they will. Actually, soon.

The purpose of both kinds of decals is to sensitize riders and drivers that we are going to be riding the buses, to sensitize riders as to which seats our wheelchair spaces use, and to educate the riders and general public that these buses are wheelchair accessible -- because, from outside, they don't appear to be.

The MTA also says it will require drivers to be proficient in the use of the lift to pass their yearly certification test.

There are two bus divisions now under the MTA umbrella. So far, one division has agreed to train drivers that they are not to apologize to the ambulatory riders for taking on a wheelchair user or other person who requires use of the lift. I have yet to ask the other division about this but I do not expect any resistance.

It is too bad that the riders on the bus who jeered me do not have to apologize and be retrained. However, I will still continue to ride. Maybe it's a good thing that I don't know who they are or what they look like.

MTA bus rider Jean Ryan is Vice President of Disabled In Action and Vice Chair of the Taxis for ALL Campaign


Congratulations on your victory.
I wish more city agencies were as responsive as the MTA.
They were probably afraid of a lawsuit and headed it off by complying with the ADA.
I am so happy for you!!!!

All I have to say is...way to win one!! Here's hoping for many more.

Three Cheers (hip hip hoorah!) for your endeavor to defeat the normal world from disablism!

This is a great accomplishment. I pray you will continue to make them “disability awareness.” Personally some of those people who heckle you, such really apologize to you but some are not like that in today’s society. Unfortunately!

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