An Okanagan Ebus passenger is speaking out after a frightening incident last month.
The Kelowna woman says she was pricked by a needle left near her seat.
Her story has the company promising change.
It happened in mid-February when Dora Weninger was taking the bus from Hope to her home in Kelowna.
“When we pulled into Merritt I reached down to adjust my seat and felt the prick in my thumb really hard. (It was) quite painful,” Weninger said.
“It was a used hypodermic needle. I don’t know what for. It must have been standing straight up for me to have hit it the way I did.”
Alarmed, she got off the stopped bus to tell the driver.
“I was shaking really hard,” Weninger said. “It was that instant sense of terror.”
Weninger said the bus driver donned gloves and removed the needle.
“He was right on it,” said Weninger. “He was scared and several times on the way back he would ask me, ‘Are you okay back there?'”
What the Okanagan woman thinks needs to be improved is the cleaning of seats between passengers.
In a statement, Ebus described what happened to Weninger as an “extremely rare incident.”
The company said it has made changes as a result.
“We have implemented a process to ensure exhaustive inspections of all hard to reach and not immediately visible areas to remove all items and debris,” said Glen Desjardine operations manger of Ebus BC, in a statement.
“The safety of our passengers and employees is our top priority at Ebus and we continuously assess and improve our protocols.”
Prior to the incident, the business said it was already thoroughly “cleaning of all Ebus coaches between each trip,” and had enhanced sanitization due to the pandemic.
After arriving back in Kelowna, Weninger went straight to the hospital where she was tested for blood-borne infections, including HIV.
The tests were negative, but she remains scared of the possible health implications.
She needs to be tested twice more in the next six months before she is given the all-clear.
“I try not to think about it because it was just the one incident thing but at the back of my mind it is always there and it will be for six months,” Weninger said.
Weninger is gratified the company reacted quickly to her call for change to protect other bus riders.