Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Veolia Bus Driver Tells Blind Man With Guide Dog To Get Off Bus

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A UNCG student says he was asked to get off of a city bus because the bus driver was not sure if his service dog was allowed. John Dyson rides the city's Higher Education Area Transit, or HEAT buses daily. He lost his vision because of a genetic disorder and uses a guide dog to help him get around. Sunday, he boarded a HEAT bus like he did countless times before, but unlike ever before, he says he was asked to get off. "I felt humiliated, I felt embarrassed, like I was being singled out because I have a service animal," explained Dyson. He added, "[The driver] said 'No you can't get on the bus, I need to talk to call my supervisor' and I said 'Well according to the [Americans with Disabilities Act], this dog is a service animal, and his allowed anywhere I am'." Kevin Elwood with the Greensboro Transit Authority says the new driver was not sure of the law. "If there is a question, we just ask, 'Is this a service animal?' and if they say 'yes' then they are allowed to board," explained Elwood. Instead of following that procedure, the driver called security and his supervisor. "I find it kind of lacking that a new employee, even a new employee wouldn't have a basic understanding or appreciation of the situation," said Bruce Pomeroy, Chair, Greensboro Mayor's Committee for Person's with Disabilities. Pomeroy is also the Director of The Office of Accessibility Resources and Services at UNCG. Dyson met with him Monday to tell him about his experience with HEAT. Pomeroy called GTA to offer sensitivity training, but Elwood said the drivers already receive that. "[The driver] has been on the job for 90 days so yes he should have known," said Elwood. "We felt that if he followed those procedures, then none of this would have happened." Now, Dyson wants to make sure an incident like this never happens again. "If this becomes a teaching moment and someone else in my position doesn't have to go through this, then all this has been worth it," he said. GTA is investigating this and they say this an isolated incident. But because of what happened to Dyson, they're reminding all of their drivers about the rules and procedures regarding service animals. The driver, like all other GTA drivers, is a contract employee hired by the company Veolia Transportation. WFMY News 2 reached out to them and they said after reviewing the investigation, they will determine if the driver needs more training. If they find he does, he will receive that training immediately. WFMY News 2

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