TriMet bus driver refuses ride to woman in wheelchair, passenger says

PORTLAND, Ore. - Amy Higdon took out her cellphone and started recording video.

She was riding TriMet bus 71 on Sunday when she says the driver refused to give a ride to a woman in a wheelchair.

The driver said there was no way the bus could safely pull up to the curb, while the woman waiting said "They (drivers) do it every day."

The bus driver told the woman waiting that she couldn't back up because a car was behind the bus.

They went back and forth for three minutes in front of an audience of a dozen passengers, including Higdon, who recorded much of the conversation.

"They were yelling at each other basically," Higdon said. "The bus driver was yelling off the bus, the woman was yelling at the bus."

On the video the driver says: "OK, I'll call it in. The next one will get you."

"Are you kidding me?" said the woman waiting as the bus pulled away.

Higdon said other passengers were encouraging the driver to leave the woman at the bus stop.

"The passengers on the bus were saying 'go on without her; she does this all the time; we don't need to pick her up.' Just basically encouraging the driver in the acts that she was taking," Higdon said.

TriMet released the following statement:

While this incident is under investigation, here's what we know as of now: The operator said they could not safely pull fully over to the stop due to a parked car in the way. It is our understanding that the operator deployed the ramp to allow boarding, and interacted with the customer who uses a mobility device for about three minutes to attempt to have the rider board the bus. Unfortunately due to safety concerns, the operator could not maneuver the bus closer to the curb. The rider and her companion went to a different bus stop a block away and boarded a bus approximately eight minutes later. We apologize for the inconvenience this caused them. As part of our investigation we are looking at this bus stop to determine whether any changes may be needed to ensure this type of incident does not occur again.