For 100-year-old Mary Anne Cooper of Port Moody, B.C., her walker is one of the most important things in her life.
“It does the job,” she said. “I’m able to lift it even though I’m 100 years old.”
“Freedom, that’s the name of the game, freedom.”
But Cooper’s freedom was taken away in the past two weeks, after the retired environmental engineer says a female bus driver refused to help her with her walker to get on the C25 TransLink bus.
“She was very firm in saying I can’t help you period. I realized most human beings would help me. It’s very uncommon for a person not to help an older person.”
The driver allegedly told Cooper she couldn’t help her due to insurance reasons.
“But I really thought to myself at the time, he’s not equating with the human reaction. He’s talking about a legal reaction. People will help me.”
Instead, Cooper had to walk back up the hill to her home, wondering what to do with the rest of her day. She said a letter to TransLink went unanswered until the media reported her story.
“I presented the picture as being unfair to seniors. It limited their transportation on public transportation,” she said.
“Seniors are part of a public group they should be servicing….TransLink is supposed to handle everybody, but in this case they discriminated.”
TransLink, which is responsible for public transit in Metro Vancouver, is now apologizing for the situation and say they’re looking into it.
“We really regret hearing about this story,” said TransLink spokesperson Jennifer Morland, who says they have spoken with Cooper.
“All of our operators are encouraged to assist passengers, and unfortunately this didn’t happen at this time…we do take this quite seriously.”
But Cooper is disappointed there’s no guarantee it won’t happen to her – or any other senior – in the future.
“I don’t want an apology. I just want to ride public transit,” she said.
“The situation is unchanged. It’s a bureaucratic situation.”
– With files from Rumina Daya