Cape Town - A blind couple from Strandfontein says they were left humiliated after the driver of a Golden Arrow bus asked them to pay fares for guide dogs.
Adrian, 38, and his wife Sharon Davids, 29, have been taking the bus for the past nine months to their jobs at the Cape Town Society for the Blind in Salt River.
Adrian works as a facilitator for Computer Literacy while Sharon is an intern.
Sharon says like most blind people, they would be lost without their guide dogs, two Labradors named Lily and Whisp.
“I see shadows and some colour in the light. I became visually impaired after I had a genetic disease as a child,” she says.
“In the morning when we leave, it is very dark and we have to rely on our dogs to be our eyesight.”
She says last Friday, while taking the bus home around 4pm with their guide dogs, “a rude and arrogant driver” insisted they pay for the dogs.
“We take a particular bus in the morning and in the afternoon and the driver and the passengers already know us,” explains Adrian.
“On Friday we had a different driver. A person stopped the bus for us and Sharon handed our tickets to the driver.
“He looked at our dogs and said: 'Guide dogs need to pay'.
“We said we always take the bus and we have never had to pay for our guide dogs.”
He says they got in and the driver took off, but while trying to find a seat in the packed bus, the driver stopped the bus.
It is not clear how much would have to be paid for the dogs but an adult ticket for the trips costs R28 each.
“He said he would make a phone call (to his manager) and that he would not lose his job over this. He made the phone call and said an inspector would meet us en route to ‘sort us out’.”
The couple says they were stressed out, fearing they would be booted off the bus, but the inspector never showed up.
They say in Strandfontein, the driver humiliated them further by pretending he couldn’t see their bus stop.
“When it came to our stop near the field, he said where is it, he doesn’t see it and for us to point it out. I said we are visually impaired, we know where it is, but cannot see it and I think he just did that to insult us,” adds Adrian.
The couple have since reported the matter.
“They responded with a reference number and said the driver would be counselled, but we were humiliated and made to feel small, we are working people like everyone else.”
Golden Arrow Bus Services spokeswoman Bronwen Dyke-Beyer says the driver was dead wrong.
“We recognise the fundamental importance of guide dogs in the lives of visually impaired and blind people and this is reflected in our policy of not charging for guide dogs,” she says.
“In this case our driver was wrong and we are extremely sorry that this has happened.
“We will investigate why this driver was not familiar with our policy and we will re-issue a notice to all drivers reminding them of our policy regarding guide dogs.”Daily Voice