An international student at TRU has filed a complaint with B.C. Transit alleging a driver allowed passengers get on the bus early based on skin colour.
An official with the Crown corporation confirmed a complaint was made Thursday. It is investigating the incident.
Rahul Sansoya, a TRU business student from India, said the incident happened Thursday evening, shortly after 10 p.m. at the Lansdowne exchange.
The No. 9 bus pulled in on time. Sansoya said he waited at the exchange while the driver had a short layover.
The only other rider waiting for the No. 9 approached the bus and was let on during the wait.
Sansoya said it was raining at the time and he sought shelter on the bus — the same as the other rider.
When he asked him if he could get on, the driver replied, “’No, I can’t trust you.’”
As the driver got off the bus to go to the washroom, Sansoya said he told him to wait on the wet shelter bench.
Sansoya said he was taken aback at first but quickly came to believe it was based on discrimination — something he hasn’t experienced in Canada for the six months he’s been here.
“I believe now it was totally racial discrimination,” he said.
The student refused to get on the bus after the incident. A few minutes later, Sansoya mentioned the incident to a worker at Tim Hortons, who suggested he make a complaint to B.C. Transit and the RCMP.
A squad car came by 20 minutes later. A Mountie spoke to Sansoya and then took him to meet with the driver. Sansoya said the driver claimed the other passenger, who was white, was only let on because he knew him as a rider from other occasions.
Meribeth Burton, a spokeswoman with B.C. Transit, said the Crown corporation is interviewing the driver to determine what happened.
Riders are allowed to board the bus three minutes before departure. Drivers can let passengers on beforehand, however, as long as the power is off and other safety measures are ensured.
“There’s no preferential treatment based on experience,” Burton said. “They should all be treated fairly. . . . It doesn’t have to be someone you know.”