Shut down on the shuttle bus

Dear Editor,

While I was covering Orientation Week for The Medium for the first issue, I went to St. George on Friday, September 7th for the cheer-off, parade and carnival. My younger sister Stephanie met with me so we could return back to our home in Mississauga on the 5:35 PM UTM shuttle bus.

Stephanie had enjoyed herself all week at frosh as a first-year student in the kinesiology program.  She’d stayed overnight at a residence at St. George for the week’s events and so she had a backpack, sleeping bag and a small luggage to take with her on the bus.

She and I were at the front of the line for the second bus that pulled up in front of Hart House for 5:35 PM.  Stephanie was the first to step on to the bus and flash her bus pass, but the bus driver wouldn’t let her sit down.

“How is that bag going to fit on my bus? Where are you going to put it?” The bus driver started to speak in a loud, aggressive voice, indicating Stephanie’s small luggage.

Stephanie and I reasoned that we could put it on top of our laps and still have room by our feet for our backpacks, but the driver refused to let us even show her.

“That bag will take extra room,” she said. My understanding up till then was that seats were given on a first-come, first-served basis, and that our bags should not be a barrier to our riding on the bus as U of T fee-paying students.

The UTM shuttle bus driver did not treat us equitably or fairly. That much is obvious.

As we tried to reason with the driver, two UTM students behind us in line attempted to help us with our case, saying, “They can put it on the floor in front.”  Yet the driver continued to practically yell at us that Stephanie was not to get on. As a UTM student with a valid T-card, I was allowed on, but I was not about to leave my sister stranded.  We arranged for a taxi to bring us home.

It makes no sense. I’ve seen other students with bigger bags of luggage get on the shuttle in the past, both going back to UTM and from it.  Stephanie herself had boarded a shuttle bus a few days earlier with the same luggage she had on her that Friday when she was not allowed on.

The UTM shuttle bus driver did not treat us equitably or fairly. That much is obvious.

We emailed the UTM shuttle bus office to get an explanation. Their reply was: “Although the website and schedules indicate that ‘drivers have the right to restrict ‘oversize’ items being carried on the shuttle bus’ this was not the particular case on Friday. The issue was that the two buses available were full and not able to accommodate the additional items.” This is an outright lie, as Stephanie and I were first in line and the bus was empty when we tried to board. The bus driver had said Stephanie’s bag was too big to fit, which is why she was turned away.  Yet there is nothing on the shuttle bus website that forbids accessibility for any reason.

How can they lie about this?



Larissa Ho

News Editor

The Medium

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