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BC Transit changes sought after Vernon senior injured on bus

Dannie Boucher’s grandmother suffered a fall after the driver took off before she was seated
An 81-year-old Vernon woman was injured on a BC Transit bus in Vernon, prompting a call for bus drivers to wait until passengers are seated before driving off. (File photo)

A Vernon woman is hoping changes can be made to BC Transit safety policies after her grandmother was injured on a bus that took off before she was seated.

Dannie Boucher’s 81-year-old grandmother, Linda (who wants only her first name to be published) got on a BC Transit bus in Vernon on April 25. Before she could sit down, the bus driver started moving, causing her to fall and re-aggravate a back injury that had recently kept her in hospital for two months.

About seven months ago, Linda broke her back. She was just starting to be able to move around again when the incident on the bus took place, causing her to pull some muscles in her back. With the injury, she’s now been told that she needs two months of rest and had her medication increased.

Being off her feet is hard for Linda, who has remained active in her older age. Boucher recalls that when she was younger, Linda used to walk all across town, from one end of Vernon all the way out to Westside Road and back.

Now with her grandmother recovering, Boucher is hoping to spread awareness that bus drivers should wait for passengers — especially elderly ones — to be seated before resuming their route.

“In no other vehicle is it OK for you to be driving without being seated. Even in the ambulance,” Boucher told The Morning Star.

Boucher got a phone call from Linda after the incident on the bus.

“She was upset that she was going to have to get x-rays and things like that again because it hurt so bad, she didn’t understand what was going on and she did not want to go through months of that rehabilitation again, so it was really an ordeal for her,” Boucher said.

“Because she is an 81-year-old woman, for her to go through that rehabilitation — and we’re talking physiotherapists and everything like that — it was daunting.”

In a statement to The Morning Star, BC Transit said it’s aware of an incident that took place in Vernon on April 25 involving an elderly passenger falling shortly after boarding a bus.

“Our top priority is safety, and our thoughts are with the person involved in this incident,” a spokesperson for BC Transit said.

BC Transit and its operating partner, First Transit, are undertaking an internal investigation into the matter.

BC Transit did not say whether it has a policy against drivers taking off before passengers are seated or holding onto a bar or handle.

Boucher said she called BC Transit’s Vernon office after the incident, and later called the head office in Victoria, but nothing came of either of those calls.

Boucher stresses that her grandmother doesn’t want to cause trouble for the bus driver. She still enjoys taking the bus and getting to know the drivers.

“She loves the bus, she loves the bus drivers,” she said.

Linda may not be alone. Boucher made a post on a Facebook group explaining the incident, and said other people commented that they’ve had a similar experience.

“There does seem to be feedback that it has happened to other people as well,” Boucher said. She added her 12-year-old son recently had an experience of being tossed onto the floor of a bus after it took off before he could brace himself.

“Maybe a little bit of a policy change (is needed),” Boucher said.

Boucher suggested that a designated stop time could be implemented, and points out that stop light signal times have changed in the past to improve safety, which begs the question: can’t bus policies change to improve safety as well?

“I don’t expect much of anything to be done, but I feel sad because now Linda’s hurt. She’s such an active, cool woman and she doesn’t deserve to go through months (of rehabilitation) again, and seeing how distressing it is to her is upsetting to me,” Boucher said.

“Her four walls are a prison to her, she likes to be out and about.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s not fair’: Long road ahead for B.C. transit improvements

READ MORE: Child hit by Kelowna BC Transit bus after school

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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