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I am writing to complain about a couple of incidents that occurred on Friday the 6th of July 2007.
The first one happened at around 1:55pm at the Merton Garage bus stop in Colliers Wood. I was waiting for the 219 bus towards Clapham Junction with my 6 month old Border Collie puppy whom I take to work. When the bus arrived at the aforementioned time, I walked towards the door of the bus to wait for all the people waiting before me to get in, after making sure the bus was not crowded and there was room for my dog and myself I got ready to board, out of politeness I gestured my dog at the driver and walked the step towards the bus, the driver shook his head, I stopped and asked in a very polite manner why I wasn't allowed in with the dog, he ignored me turned his head around and closed the door on my face and without any warning he drove off. I am very sure I do not need to explain how uncomfortable, upset and angry the rude actions of the driver made me feel. The electronic board at this stop hasn't been working for a week or so, and without the time to wait around I was forced to call a taxi to pick me up and take me to work.
After 12 hrs at work as a nanny caring for 3 children I finished work and waited at the Brodrick Road stop towards Wimbledon, again for a 219 bus to take me home. I waited for 20 minutes, when the 219 came, it was the same driver! I approached and got in with my dog, he said no again; I asked very politely and calmly why, to which he replied he didn't want to, I said that as far as I knew (and researched) it is legal, and permissible to take dogs in buses, he said no again, I said I needed to get home, and pointed out that as he was in his cabin and the tired pup wouldn't be too noticeable for him whilst he drove the bus. He mostly ignored me when I spoke, and didn't give me any reasonable answers as to why he had decided not to let me in, I begged once again to which he muttered he didn't have to go through this and turned off the engine of the bus. After asking one last time to let me in and let me get home, and after ignoring me once again, I had to step off the bus in a huge state of distress.
As he sped off I had a panic attack that lasted almost 4 minutes and left me like a wreck, I also had to wait 20 more minutes for another 219 to take me home. In addition to the upset this experience caused me I haven't been able to sleep as I keep re-living the humiliating experience over and over again and over and over again I feel angry, upset and confused.
I am deeply disturbed by this incident, I feel humiliated and angry. I am an honest hard working person who has chosen to travel by public transport as the best and most environmentally friendly way to travel around London. I am also a polite and collected individual who treated this bus driver with the up-most respect given the circumstances of which this event unfolded. I was treated unfairly and was discriminated against for having a dog. How am I supposed to travel? Why is a bus driver allowed to treat me in such dismissive and rude manner? Why is he allowed to humiliate me in front of other passengers?
I could agree there could be circumstances in which a dog poses a risk for passengers in a public bus, but a 6 month old puppy? A half asleep six month old pup? And what risk could it pose for a driver in a locked up cabin? This is public transport, I am a member of the public, and the driver is driving a public transport bus, not his personally owned taxi service.
I take the 219 every day to and from work and I am very disappointed in the unfair and rude way I was treated. It is not only the first time I am refused entry with my puppy but also that a bus driver has treated me in such an awful, inhumane and inconsiderate way.
Given my circumstances I cannot afford to pay for a taxi to make my way to and from work when I bring my dog in, so I guess I will have keep taking the 219, I just hope never to see this driver again.
London and the Borough of Merton are working very hard to become greener and more environmentally friendly, all these initiatives must be enforced with a view into making people and most certainly people that run public services aware of the benefits and also the tolerance, responsibility and professionalism required to make these schemes work for the good of all.
Surely acts like this one won't encourage any dog-owners to take the bus with their dogs, and will instead push them to keep using taxis and private cars at the expense of the environment.
What can i do now? Is there a group i can join for a fair way to travel in London or are there any other people out there with a similar experience?