Free city paper The Wellingtonian – which I can’t link to since the Fairfax digital page is three weeks behind – led with a story last week of a schoolgirl, Sam Hunt, who had made a complaint to bus company GO Wellington.
She caught a bus to Karori on October 23, but when it came time to get off at the last stop, the bus driver continued driving, heading back into town. She says he told her he was going finish his shift, and that he was going to take her with him. She was scared, and pleaded with him to let her off.
Then she swore at him, as he continued to drive without letting her out. He slowed climbing Karori Road, and she jumped off the bus while it was still moving, arriving home white and shaking.
Sam’s mother made a complaint to GO Wellington that night. After she estimates 20 phone calls, on December 3rd she was told in writing:
The driver has been advised that he could have handled the situation in a more professional manner manner – even though the altercation involved both parties….
I would like to mention that GO Wellington takes matters such as these very seriously indeed.
The family considered a Police complaint, but like many young women who have been harassed or threatened, Sam did not want to, and wasn’t sure it was serious enough to bother the Police with. She now feels unable to travel on the bus alone.
Nothing “happened” to Sam in the end due to her own bravery – but it’s a pretty creepy story – and the driver at best in my opinion was trying to scare her.
It’s a bit of a pattern with GO Wellington it seems – not taking responsibility for things happening on their buses. Earlier this year, they washed their hands of charging problems with the new Snapper cards, which adult bus customers must use now instead of ten trips (though students and senior citizens can still use their ten trips for a while). This was because:
Snapper is not a bus ticket. It is a form of payment that we accept such as cash or other passes. When you pay for a product using Eftpos, should the Eftpos fail, you will be required to complete the transaction using another form of payment.”
So Snapper isn’t a bus ticket, though it’s replaced bus tickets with no choice for bus users, and a bus driver who won’t let a young woman get off the bus and tells her he’s taking her home could have been more “professional”.
After the Wellingtonian contacted GO Wellington, they received an email from the bus company saying they had reopened the case on November 26th (so after the message closing the investigation which Sam and her mother received). Watch this space.
GO Wellingtonian I say.