Friday, April 23, 2010

Ejected From a Bus for a Reaction to Scent?

Today I was on Kingston Transit heading to a doctor's appointment and a passenger, who was wearing too much scent, got on. I kindly asked her to sit further back in the bus because I react to perfume and I can't move from the tie-down section. She did. I appreciate her consideration, and I want to thank her for moving back without expecting me to justify myself.

Unfortunately the scent was still too strong so it triggered an asthma attack. Before I knew it, I had trouble breathing. I got dizzy, started to get a little light-headed, and eventually became less able to reason. I started to panic.

The bus driver was alerted to my dilemma and asked if I was okay and I said yes. I thought I could endure. I also didn’t want to get off the bus to wait for another one, because I knew I would be late, or possibly miss, my doctor’s appointment.

Well, before long, the lack of oxygen got the better of me and without thinking, I undid the tie-down strap, turned around, and moved toward the bus driver so I could breathe. I didn't think about the fact that, by moving and no longer being secured, I would be in contravention of the law. The driver stopped the bus and told me I had to get off; that I would have to wait for the next one. I didn't even have a chance to change my mind, to open more windows, go back to the tie-down section, and try to endure. I told him I didn't know where I was, but still, I had to get off. I was wheezing badly, was dizzy, foggy headed, and because I was so shocked by his reaction, went into a full-fledged panic attack; something that has not happened for years.

After the bus left, I didn't have a clue what to do so I sat there and took deep breaths to try to recover myself. It eventually worked, so I then called the Access Bus to ask if they would send a bus and rescue me.

Thankfully, the dispatcher recognized I was in distress, so she radioed for a bus and asked them to get me. She then said she would stay on the phone with me until the driver arrived. She wanted to make sure I was okay because I was still struggling a bit with my breathing. She even asked another dispatcher to call my doctor’s office and tell them I would be late so I would not have to miss my doctor’s appointment altogether. I am so grateful and I cannot thank her enough.

If I had my way, I would take the Access Bus all the time, but I can't afford it on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Last year I paid $1,645.50 for buses (a combination of the Access Bus and Kingston Transit). To contrast the prices, it would cost $780 to buy 12 full-priced bus passes on Kingston Transit for a year's worth of unlimited rides.

For this reason, I find it ironic that the City of Kingston would introduce a Municipal Transit Subsidy to people who live below the poverty line to take Kingston Transit, but not for people who need to take the Access Bus. If you agree this doesn't make sense, please call your city councilor and ask that they:
  1. Apply the municipal transit subsidy to the Access Bus as well as Kingston Transit,

  2. Adopt an enforceable scent free policy for all buses so that the one with the breathing difficulty does not have to get off.
Thank you.

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