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Greyhound of Canada / discrimination against the disabled

I am a wheelchair bound man. Because of my disability, I have
been savagely discriminated against by Greyhound of Canada.

I initially contacted Greyhound of Canada's telephone
reservation line on Thursday, September 25 2008 to purchase
two round trip bus tickets from Oshawa, Ontario Canada via
Toronto Ontario, Buffalo NY and Cleveland OH to Pittsburgh PA
and back. The travel date was October 3, 2008, a Friday. The
tickets were paid for by my traveling companion, Ms. Heather
Wegemer, who lives at the same location as I do (see above)
and shares the same phone number. She was also
the other person traveling with me.

As soon as the tickets had been purchased, we called
again to set up the needed wheelchair assistance, and
arranged for the Specialty Transportation Department of
Durham region Transit to pick us up at our home in a
wheelchair accessible vehicle and take us to the bus stop.
We were told that the disabled assistance department would
get back to us.

We asked for a direct phone number for the disabled
assistance department, and were told that such a number did
not exist (!).

We were also told that we would have to arrange disabled
assistance separately with Lakefront Lines of Ohio, who were
to carry us from Buffalo to Cleveland, and greyhound USA who
would carry us from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. We did so that
Friday, September 26, with no trouble at all.

Day after day passed with no word from greyhound of Canada.
We went to the will call desk at the Greyhound terminal in
Oshawa to get our tickets, the agent there informed us that
we could not be picked up with a wheelchair accessible bus at
the start point of our trip because it was a street stop
rather than a terminal, and the bus was not allowed to deploy
the wheelchair lift except within a terminal. This came as a
great shock, because we had researched the trip carefully on
the Greyhound of Canada website, and that stop, listed as
Bloor West, was listed as a FULL SERVICE STOP, including
checked baggage handling!

We were very anxious by Wednesday night, October 1, when we
finally received a call from Greyhound of Canada's disabled
assistance department to assure us that everything was all
approved and ready to go.

The following night, Thursday, October 2, at about 8 pm when
it was too late to contact anyone or do anything about it,
that department called back to tell us that 'my request for a
wheelchair accessible bus has been denied.'

We were appalled at the sheer callousness, and the timing. On
Friday October 3, when we were supposed to be traveling, I
spent about 9 hours on the phone to various departments of
Greyhound Canada trying to get the matter resolved.

During these nine hours i spoke to Mrs. Robles, Ms. Flynch
and one other lady at the complaint department,
[protected]) Selena at the legal department (direct line
[protected]) and someone who declined to give her name at
the customer assistance department [protected]).

The street stop at Bloor West, erroneously listed as a full
service stop, is just ten blocks from the Oshawa Greyhound
terminal at 47 Bond street, corner of Simcoe. We suggested
that wheelchair lift bus pick us up there. We were told, not
allowed. We suggested that we could get there earlier or
later so that the schedules of other passengers not be
disrupted; we were told, not allowed. We asked if there were
any other stops in the Durham Region that were wheelchair
lift deployment safe, because we could get Durham region
Specialty Transportation to take us anywhere in the Durham
Region at any time of the day or night to meet a wheelchair
lift bus. We were told that the bus from Oshawa to Toronto
MADE NO OTHER STOPS, either before Oshawa or between Oshawa
and Toronto.(!) If this were true, there seemed no possible
reason to refuse to send a wheelchair lift bus for us at the
Oshawa terminal ten or fifteen minutes early, so that we
could be accommodated with no disruption to the schedules of
other passengers. We were told not allowed.

Finally, we were informed that we would have to begin our
trip from the terminal in Toronto, which meant we could not
use the disabled transit services of the Durham Region
Specialty Transportation people. I had to humiliate myself to
beg the father of my traveling companion, Mr. Mike Wegemer
who lives in Mississauga, Ontario, to be late for the start
of his workday on Wednesday, October 8 in order to pick us up
in Oshawa and drive us to Toronto.

Let me point out that this represented NO accommodation at all
for my disability; I, the disabled, was forced to accommodate
Greyhound of Canada.

I thought that surely someone in the company organization
would now take care of getting the disabled assistance
approved and set up; no such courtesy was offered. I was told
that I would have to cancel the arrangements that had been
made with Lakefront Lines and Greyhound USA AND REMAKE THEM,
AND GO THROUGH THE SAME FRUSTRATING PROCESS WITH GREYHOUND OF
CANADA all over again. I did so that same Friday, October 3.

As verification, let me state that the disabled assistance
control numbers issued for our original travel date, Friday
October 3, were issued on Monday September 29, and were
AG299564 for me and CD299565 for Ms. Wegemer, who has a
different disability and travels with a service dog. When I
had to cancel and remake those arrangements, the new numbers,
issued on Friday October 3 for travel on Wednesday October 8,
were AG300543 for we and CD300545 for Ms. Wegemer. This is
important as proof that I did indeed make all those calls on
Friday, October 3, in light what happened later.

As before, we had to wait for a call back from the disabled
assistance department. Now, the person at your re3servations
phone line who took our call to set up disabled assistance the
second time was a nightmare to deal with. She insisted that
the bus we were to take, leaving Toronto for buffalo at 8 AM,
did not exist. Even when I gave her the route number, she
insisted that there was no such bus. Only when I told her of
the trip starting in Oshawa did she admit that the next leg
of the trip, Toronto to Buffalo on a different bus, actually
existed. then she tried to insist that we were not allowed to
join that trip in Toronto, that in order to ride that bus
from Toronto to Buffalo we had to start our trip in Oshawa,
which we had just been told we could not do. This was also
manifestly ridiculous, because the bus to Buffalo at 8 am
originated in Toronto, and so did most of the passengers on
it, as we later found out.
That person, a woman whose name began with a W but who
refused to restate it when I asked her to later in the
conversation, at first refused to get a supervisor for me to
talk to, but eventually got a Michelle, who made Ms. W see
that we could indeed start our trip on the 8am bus from
Toronto to Buffalo, then go on to Pittsburgh via Cleveland.

Again, we waited as days passed with no word from the disabled
assistance department of Greyhound Canada. Finally,
terrified, we called the reservations line on Monday, October
6, to beg someone to please inquire as to the status of our
request. They said they could only put it in again, with a
note that this was an inquiry about a request made days
before. We were told at that time that we would get a call
back in 30 to 40 minutes. No call back came that night. The
next night, Tuesday, October 7, at 8:15 PM, less than 12
hours before our trip was to start (for the second time in a
row!) we got a call to say that our request for a wheelchair
lift bus was denied, on the alleged grounds that we had not
given sufficient notice.

Your rules state that 48 hours is sufficient notice. We had
put the request in on October 3, for travel on October 8.
During the conversation, the person, a woman who refused to
give her name on any of the three times she called us, stated
that they had no record of our request until Monday morning
October 6, which, by your company rules, was in fact long
enough notice for the request to have been granted! As soon
as she realized what she had admitted, she hung up on me.

Now, at 8:15 PM it was too late for me to call your customer
assistance line, or your complaint line, or your legal
department.
Our ride had made arrangements to be late for work and have a
vehicle able to take my wheelchair for that Wednesday; he
could not remake those arrangements on less than a weeks
notice. We had consumed all our supplies and shut down
utilities to our home in Oshawa in anticipation of leaving on
Friday October 3; we had to eat from delivery from then until
Wednesday October 8. We were out of money as well as supplies
by then.

Having no choice, we went down to the Greyhound terminal in
Toronto in time for the 8am bus to Buffalo, and sat and
waited in the middle of the waiting room, telling everyone
who would listen our story, until the terminal Greyhound
personnel finally decided that they had to put us on the
10:30 bus to Buffalo, which would still arrive in time to make
our 2:00 pm connection with Lakefront Lines.

The 10:30 am bus did NOT have a wheelchair lift. My
wheelchair, then a manual, was folded up and stowed as
luggage, and I was forced o ride in the extreme rear seat,
next to the stinking bathroom, because that was the only
place where I had room to extend my damaged legs.

By the time I left that bus in Buffalo to get back onto mu
wheelchair, I was in agony. The pain was excruciating.

In the Buffalo terminal were two buses from Lakefront Lines.
Both had wheelchair lifts. Ni ether one worked. Let me mention
that Lakefront Lines was chosen as the carrier from Buffalo
to Cleveland by Greyhound of Canada, not by me.

Luckily for us, a bus belonging to Fullington Trailways of PA
was in the terminal at that time. It had a working wheelchair
lift because they had been scheduled to pick up two
wheelchair passengers there that day, neither of whom
actually appeared.

Fullington Trailways took us to Pittsburgh without any stop
and change buses in Cleveland, but the route made so many
intermediate stops that we arrived in Pittsburgh an hour
later than originally scheduled.

Because of this, the arrangements we had made locally to get
from the Greyhound terminal to my home in Pittsburgh fell
through, and we had to wait for a minivan taxi, which took
two hours to arrive while we got drizzled on.

The trip was agonizingly painful, unduly prolonged, and
mortally exhausting. It need not have been.

This is aside from needless expense we were put to, and two
weeks of growing anxiety and fear, wondering what nasty trick
your company's 'disabled assistance' department' was going to
pull on us next. Absent some strong evidence to the contrary
in the future, I'm prepared to take oath that the real
purpose of Greyhound of Canada's disabled assistance
department is to dissuade any disabled persons from riding
Greyhound of Canada buses!

As to redress of my grievances; I have had to take increased
blood pressure medication since this disastrous trip. My
doctor will attest to that. I am also in increased pain and
take stronger medication for that. I have had to go from a
manual wheelchair to a powered wheelchair as a result,
because the degree of my disability has increased as a result
of the stresses of the trip.

Including physical and mental pain and anguish, actual
unanticipated expenses and general inconvenience, and the
gross violation of my human rights under Canadian law, I
think a full refund of the original price of the fares plus
added compensation in the amount of $2, 000.00 U.S. is more
than reasonable to ask.
My new power wheelchair alone has cost nearly $8, 000.00.

I also wish to suggest the following change in Greyhound of
Canada's procedures and policies; Consolidate your assistance
to disabled passengers with that of Greyhound USA. They deal
with the matters far more efficiently and expeditiously than
your people do.

At absolute minimum, have a separate toll free line to call
to set up assistance for disabled passengers and publish that
number widely.

Your reservations people are clearly not competent to handle
setting up assistance for the disabled passenger, or even to
gather and transmit the required data. This whole business of
having no way for the disabled passenger to follow up on the
status of a request, of keeping the phone number of the
disabled assistance department a secret from passengers,
smacks of a bad movie plot. It creates the suggestion that
the motive may actually be to deny service to the disabled
and leave them with no recourse.

Also, during my discussions with your various people on
Friday, October 3, I was repeatedly told that and I quote,
"We cannot inconvenience other passengers just for one
person."

Let me point out some facts. I have ridden Greyhound buses
many times since becoming disabled. This was the first time I
bought my ticket from Greyhound of Canada. On earlier trips,
they did exactly that; inconvenienced a number of other

passengers to accommodate the needs of the disabled. I saw
buses held by as much as three hours. I saw people who had
tickets told that they must wait for the next bus to the same
destination because the setup for each wheelchair took up 6
or 8 seats depending on the particular installation in each
bus.

Indeed, on my most recent trip TO Canada FROM Pittsburgh,
before this disaster of a trip, When I arrived in Buffalo from
Erie, PA on a bus with a working lift, it was discovered that
despite a full seven days advance notice, Greyhound of Canada
had failed to send a bus with w wheelchair lift. It was not
that the lift did not work; there was no lift on that bus!
What did they do? They put me back on the bus I had arrived
in Buffalo on, refueled it, and made EVERY PASSENGER on the
Greyhound of Canada bus get off, get their luggage, move that
luggage to the other bus and get on it. The trip to Toronto
from Buffalo that afternoon was made by a Greyhound USA bus
while the Greyhound of Canada bus was used to run the rest of
the US buses route.

Let me make a point that your person ell all seem to have
missed; we are speaking of inconvenience, often very minor,
to X number of non-disabled passengers versus COMPLETE DENIAL
OF SERVICE to the disabled if the policy of refusing to
inconvenience other passengers is adhered to. That is clearly
against the Canadian code of human rights.

I will be returning to Canada this Sunday, November 9, 2008.
I will begin the trip on a Fullington bus because their
condition for taking me from Buffalo to Pittsburgh was that
they take over the return trip as well. When THEY called you
to arrange wheelchair accommodations, THEY were given a
direct number to call your disabled assistance department.
THEY received full approval in minutes. THEY were sworn to
not reveal that direct number to me or any other passenger,
or so the Fullington rep who helped me apologetically stated
when I asked him for it for possible future use.

Now Greyhound of Canada is lying to the Canadian Human Rights Commission about the matter. If anyone out there can swear to have seen the Bloor West bus stop in Oshawa Ontario Canada listed as a full service stop (they have now changed it) on the Greyhound Canada website, or can testify that in September of 2008 there was NOT a seperate 800 number to call to set up assistance for disabled passengers on Greyhound Canada busses, please contact me, [protected]@bookwyrm.com. so that I can include your testimony against these unmitigated ###.

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