Dear Mothers: You should be aware.
There is a ranking of people who are entitled to ride on public transportation in certain cities.
Top of that list: The able bodied, those who can board the bus quickly and quietly and sit in their seats and not be disturbing in any way and can simply shut up.
Second on that list: The disabled, those in wheelchairs or who are otherwise mobility limited.
Third on that list: Women with more than one child in a stroller.
Last on that list: Women with one child in a stroller. You should just count yourself lucky you get to get on a bus at all, you (take a deep breath and make sure you have as much disgust and disdain in your voice as possible before you say) MOTHER. Never mind you carry with you one of society’s most vulnerable. If you take up too much room on a bus, you can just get your ass OFF the bus and don’t forget where you belong, which is most definitely not here.
Nelly Elayoubi found this out the hard way on a cold, snowy day as she took an OC Transpo bus to her destination. She had her two month old baby daughter, Ayah, in a stroller. Shortly after she boarded, another mother boarded with two toddlers in a stroller. When, at a further stop, a person with a wheelchair wanted to board, the bus driver ordered the last person to board with a stroller to get off the bus. When he discovered that that person had two children, he then ordered Elayoubi and her infant off the bus in order to make room for the wheelchair.
Just… get off the bus? Now? I don’t care if it’s snowing and cold and you paid your fare, get your ass off this bus?
Were there no other options?
Could she not have been at least asked to collapse the stroller or figure out some other way to fit everyone safely?
Could no able-bodied person have been asked (or, god forbid, volunteer) to stand to make room for more people at the front of the bus?
These are all obvious questions. But more insidious, more disturbing than the plain lack of common sense or courtesy shown in this case is the question: Why is the mother with the infant the first target?
It’s enormous. Why are mothers looked down on our society with such disdain for daring to leave their houses, let alone with a stroller?
How dare she, really. Why did she have a baby if she doesn’t have a gas-guzzling soccer mom SUV to drive that baby around in (which, by the way, is shameful too, you environment killer!) How dare she put that infant in a stroller that has brakes that means the infant would be relatively safe while riding on a moving bus instead of trying to juggle collapsing her stroller while holding an infant on a moving bus (which is surely terribly unsafe)?
Why does the public transportation system in the capital city of Canada have such a mother-hostile attitude?
This isn’t the first time this issue has arisen. This past February Ottawa’s Transit committee discussed this very issue, which I wrote about on my personal blog. At that point, disabled rights’ groups were complaining about the number of strollers on buses, meaning that too many disabled people were being left behind at bus stops. Which, while this is definitely a problem and I have every sympathy, surely a full bus isn’t the fault of the riders? Surely the policy is first come, first served? Surely a mother and her child have the same rights to use the public transit system as everyone else?
Not according to that OC Transpo driver. According to that driver, there is a ranking, and Elayoubi and her two month old infant were at the bottom of it.
Which displays absolutely nothing except a complete lack of common sense.