Paris bus driver hailed a hero for kicking off ALL passengers after they refused to make room for wheelchair user

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kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture
Paris bus driver hailed a hero for kicking off ALL passengers after they refused to make room for wheelchair user

I absolutely love this story. What a great response to ignorant passengers.

Francois Le Berre, who has multiple sclerosis, was waiting to get on a bus in a Paris suburb, but none of the passengers would move to allow him space.

The bus driver, who has not been named, noticed the problem and took the unprecedented step of asking every single passenger to leave the bus.

He then allowed Mr Le Berre to come on board and drove off with him as the sole passenger.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/paris-bus-driver-hailed-for-kickin...

lagatta4

That's a great story. Hope the driver isn't disciplined for his action.

Paris has made considerable progress in terms of accessibility - 30 years ago it was horrible; of course the métro was built long before anyone thought of anyone but "able-bodied workers" using it. The new tramline ringing Paris is a great help. But the indifference to others typical of the largest cities remains an obstacle.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

If buses in Paris are anything like in Toronto (and it sounds like they are) then there are semi-dedicated seats (same on streetcars and the subway) that flip up to make room for a wheelchair or scooter, with necessary straps and such for stability.  Anyone sitting on such a seat is, of course, expected to vacate it if a person using a mobility device needs it.

It's not clear, though, why the guy sitting in a seat at the back, or the woman sitting next to him, had to get off the bus; it's not like they could give their seat to the man using a wheelchair.  Yes, yes, I know they can always catch the next bus, but it really doesn't make any sense.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i believe it was a refex on the part of the driver to kick the passengers off. not something well thought out. i've experienced things like this several times thoughout my life.

lagatta4

I think the driver was just pissed off at the lack of solidarity displayed by (presumably) able-bodied passengers (remember, some disabilities are invisible).

The Paris métro is very old, and while newer stations (and at least the newest line) are accessible, most are not. Many require long walks, including flights of stairs) for transfers. Paris is working on this, but it is a huge challenge.

Here in Montréal, our much newer métro system has relatively few accessible stations. They were doing renovations at the Beaubien station (0range line) a few years ago, and did NOT introduce lifts to make it accessible, saying the Jean-Talon station (just north) was already accessible, and the Rosemont station (just south) would be soon. The problem is, there are two large social housing buildings for seniors very close to Beaubien and many of the residents have severe disabilities. Indeed, those buildings accommodate people who are not yet seniors who have severe disabilities and use wheelchairs, disability scooters or other mobility aids.

cco

lagatta4 wrote:

They were doing renovations at the Beaubien station (0range line) a few years ago, and did NOT introduce lifts to make it accessible, saying the Jean-Talon station (just north) was already accessible, and the Rosemont station (just south) would be soon.

The STM really needs a disabled person on the board to make the point of how ludicrous those decisions are in the eyes of someone who has difficulty getting around. "Don't worry, you only have to go twice as far as someone who's not disabled!"

Pondering

I don't think the driver could have kicked passengers off selectively. The able-bodied can endure a delay and discomfort once in order for a wheelchair bound person to feel like a first class citizen. In the moment I might not have been happy about it but I would have understood. 

Last summer we had a community picnic but the handicapped transport never showed up for one of my neighbours. She waited 2 hours even though it was a scheduled pick-up. 

lagatta4

Is she too disabled to  use the STM taxi service for disabled people? My next-door neighbour is disabled and finds that service far better than the mini-bus. But not all disabled people can use it; I see the mini-bus all the time outside one of the seniors' HLMs by Beaubien métro.

Jean-Talon has a lift now, as does Rosemont, but only the orange line is accessible so far, not the blue line. They are starting to roll out lifts for the blue and green lines, but it is painfully slow.

My neighbour is moving to a new co-op building Coop du Mile-End, on de Gaspé a bit north of Laurier, as soon as it is ready; there are almost 50 units, some for disabled people, some with up to three bedrooms for families.  Unfortunately no lift at Laurier station - one is being built at Mont-Royal. In that case the two stations are very close, but obviously have different connecting buses.

Richard Bergeron, the founder and former leader of Projet Montréal was a jerk in many ways, but I agree with him that Mont-Royal (the street) needs a tram line with a high frequency and dedicated lane. Mont-Royal is relatively narrow for such a busy street and it always congested; it is faster to walk than to take the bus, drive or cycle (I take a parallel street, usually Gilford just north of Mt-Royal), but not everybody can walk from Iberville to St-Denis, and it isn't pleasant for anyone on an icy, freezing day. All the trams in Amsterdam (just as an example) have been changed and the new ones are fully accessible to people with motor, visual or hearing disabilities - this also makes travel much easier for parents pushing strollers or people with large packages.

Unionist

Little update: The Paris transit system (RATP) customer service tweeted back to the passenger, saying:

"In order to permit us to deliver your very positive message to the driver, could you please provide me with the number of the line, the time, which stop, which direction, and confirm that the date was Oct. 20? Thanks in advance."

Someone replied, tweeting that it wouldn't be prudent for the passenger to reply, because it could just be a way to ID the driver and discipline him. To which another customer service agent replied:

"I understand your concern, but a driver doesn't get fired for acting in the interest of passengers."

It's all over here (in French). 

WWWTT

This driver deserves an award for bringing attention to a real problem in the attitude some people have.

Sean in Ottawa

Even thought what the driver did may have been technically wrong (ordering passengers at the back to get off who may not have made a difference, I am very sympathetic.

It is hard to determined who could have made a difference since it is not only those up front who did not move but also the ones who saw and did not speak up.

The inconvenience to the passengers who did nothing is frankly trivial compared to what a person with limitations from something like MS has to advocate for themselves.

Having had a family member with MS, this also has particular impact on me.

quizzical

meanwhile in China a passenger gets into a fight with the bus driver and the bus plunges off a bridge into the Yangtze and 15 people are dead with 2 missing.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I don't think the driver could have kicked passengers off selectively.

Why?  Are you saying that if two people on the bus started fighting, the driver would similarly need to ask everyone to get off the bus??

Quote:
It is hard to determined who could have made a difference since it is not only those up front who did not move but also the ones who saw and did not speak up.

Shouldn't it be the driver's job to speak up?  Why is that the responsibility of 60 random passengers?

Quote:
The inconvenience to the passengers who did nothing is frankly trivial

Yes, yes.  But does that make it make sense though?  Unless Pondering is correct, and drivers are required to either eject everyone or no one, it seems a bit unnecessary.  

If some able-bodied asshat parks in a "handicapped" spot and gets towed, that makes sense.  If all the other cars in the parking lot get towed at the same time, does that also make sense?  Does the fact that having your car towed is less of an inconvenience than having a debilitating disease make it make sense? 

Pondering

I didn't know about the taxi service. I am not sure if she would be able to use it but I will look into it. Another neighbour needs a scooter and didn't know she could get a prescription from her doctor. She did get one but the waiting list is terribly long. She has been fully accessed and approved but the waiting list for one is long. It's been over a year. Her cleaning lady had been stealing from her so I got her in touch with an interventionist at Projet Changement who did intervene. 

Back to the bus situation, yes there were other things the driver could have done. Drivers in Montreal must get really fed-up of asking people to move to the rear. People at the rear also have to move back but invariably there are people "holding their ground" we have to maneuver around.

We weren't there. We don't know who was on the bus or how difficult it would have been for them to make room. It seems the driver was exasperated. I wouldn't want drivers to make a habit of it but this one time it has brought the topic to the forefront which is a good thing. Drivers kicking all the passengers off a bus is unlikely to become habitual. If it does that is soon enough to deal with it as a problem. Currently the problem is insufficient respect for the mobility impaired not an excess of concern to the detriment of other passengers. 

As a regular user of public transit I have been delayed countless times. Buses don't show up on time or refuse to wait when they can see you running. The event as described was a one off. 

I can't imagine if every single event of unfair treatment of people who are challenged in one way or another were so publicized. So yes, if was unfair to all the people who had nothing to do with the incident and were just minding their own business in the back of the bus. 

I didn't say that drivers are required to eject everyone or no one. I said it is more difficult for the driver to eject specific passengers. Usually a diver will notify police rather than confront some passengers. By saying "everyone off, route terminated" he avoided a confrontation with specific passengers who may have argued with him. I don't know if that was any part of his reasoning but it certainly does seem easier to just say "everyone off". 

He could also have let everyone back on after the passenger was settled in. The point is not that his action was the only response possible or the right response but rather that in the grand scheme of things it's one small incident in which a few able-bodied people were inconvenienced. In so doing attention was brought to bear on the unnecessary challenges faced by people on public transit. 

I am so grateful to live where I do. I almost always walk to the Mont Royal metro but I am very happy to hear it and Angrignon on on the list for elevators. It's ridiculous that these stations weren't built with elevators or at least with the foresight that they might be installed at some future date. 

I agree that a tram on Mont Royal would be great. 

lagatta4

There simply wasn't the awareness of the rights and needs of disabled people in the early 1960s when the métro was being planned. A lot of disabled activism started out from pissed off Vietnam veterans, in the US, and spread to other countries.

That said, there was no excuse for failing to retrofit métro stations with lifts and other needs of disabled people, including a better announcement system for visual and hearing-impaired people.

I know that it is major work, but they are taking their sweet time. Vendôme should have been equipped along with the opening of the MUHC, and note that Berri-UQAM also serves a "super-hospital".

http://www.stm.info/fr/infos/etat-du-service/travaux/ascenseurs-venir-da... (click on English if desired).

Nothing for Longueuil, while all Laval stations are equipped.

lagatta4

Allison Hanes is one of the better columnists (in her case the French term chroniqueur/chroniqueuse seems more appropriate) at the Mtl Gazette, and has a story on the continuing challenges faced by disabled people in terms of transport and accessibility in general: https://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/allison-hanes-montreal-ha...