Monday, April 4, 2016

Chicago Transit Authority and Strollers

Today I had my first very real and downright awful experience trying to board a bus in Chicago.  All of the details are in the letter below.  I'm trying to share this on every platform I can because I want it out there.  Here's the letter that I wrote to the CTA this morning:

To Whom It May Concern:

         I am writing to complain about the terrible and humiliating experience that I had while riding the #76 Diversey bus today.  It was very cold, in the low 30s, snowing, and my infant was not in a good mood.  I was just trying my best to get everyone home quickly.  The bus arrived and I waited back while any senior citizens and peoples with disabilities boarded.  Once the coast was clear the few remaining people to board politely motioned for me to board. I went to get on the bus and the bus driver very crossly told me that I needed to break down my stroller.  I told him that was fine but I needed to board the bus first because it was cold and I needed a place to set my baby while I broke it down.  He kept yelling at me to break everything down before boarding.  The few people waiting kept insisting to the bus driver to let me board with the baby.  I went to get the stroller up into the bus and the driver actually started pulling the bus forward!!!  He completely endangered my baby and no one could believe that he did that. 
It was very difficult, but I managed to break everything down on my own and finally get boarded. The driver continued to be verbally aggressive.  It was not rush hour, the bus was not crowded and the smaller handicapped section of the bus was available for the stroller.  He still continued to lecture me about the stroller and threatened that I had better not even think about opening it back up or else.  So I very awkwardly had to set my baby’s car seat on one of the chairs while the folded up stroller was leaning in the handicapped section.  This forced me to take up a total of 4 seats.  If the driver had just let me on from the beginning with the stroller intact, I would have only taken up 2 seats.  So this driver endangered my baby, verbally attacked me, and purposefully delayed other passengers boarding just because he wanted to have some sort of power trip.  It was incredibly humiliating.  I consider myself a reasonable and understanding person.  If it had been rush hour or a bus that was crowded, I would understand.  If there wasn’t any space in the handicapped section, I would understand.  If I had an older child who could walk or sit in my lap, I would understand.  If my baby was old enough it sit in a forward facing stroller without a car seat attachment that was easy to break down on my own, I would understand.  If I had someone with me to assist me in breaking everything down, I would understand.  If the bus driver was friendly and willing to offer assistance to a mom trying to board a bus with an angry infant all by herself, I would understand.  This bus driver really just wanted to see me suffer and was rude, threatening and unapologetic.  I am extremely disappointed in the CTA for hiring such an unbelievable individual.  When I got home to tell my fiancé what had happened he knew exactly which driver it was and told me that he had also had the misfortune of trying to board with this driver.  The first time my fiancé encountered this individual, the driver was so blatantly rude about my fiancé boarding that he was forced to walk all of the way home.  The next time the driver forced my fiancé to wait while he let about 20 people board the bus before him.  That is not how you treat someone with an infant.  It’s disgusting and I cannot believe that this person is being allowed to treat passengers in this way. 
It is very difficult to sit down and write this as I know that my letter will probably be thrown away or filed with all of the other complaints and nothing will come of it -- because hey, you’re just doing your job and you get to clock out at 5, right?  I am begging you to reconsider.  I’m not a bad person.  I’m not an aggressive or angry individual.  I’m a new mom who works full time and averages about 3 hrs-4 hrs of sleep a night.  I depend on the CTA to get around the city and to get from point A to point B with my baby.  I shouldn’t be harassed by my bus driver in the process.  If you have ever had children, you should understand that navigating the city with a baby isn’t easy.  I implore you to look into this issue and take action on it.  There are a lot of parents like me who are just trying to get their babies home safely.
For reference this was the #76 Diversey bus heading west.  The bus number was 6724.  The intersection was at Clark and Diversey and the incident occurred at approximately 10:30AM on April 4th, 2016.  The driver was a large, older, African-American male.  The driver’s badge number was 45506.  Thank you for taking the time to read this. 

If you know anyone who has struggled with crappy bus drivers please share my story.  It doesn't matter if you're in Chicago or not.  There's no reason for anyone to ever be treated this way.