A 10-year-old boy, who had to go home by bus from the Société de Transports de Montréal (STM), was banned from getting on by a driver on the pretext that he was “too young”.
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Viktor Fortin was to return from his chess club on Sunday morning by taking line 24 which crosses Sherbrooke Street at Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. He only had 9 stops to get home.
Upon boarding, he was questioned about his age by the driver.
“She said she was 11 years old [au lieu de 10] because he was afraid, says his mother Marie-Pier Fortin. The driver replied, “Oh no, you are not allowed on my bus, go away, get off now.”
Left to his own devices in the cold, the boy called his mother who was at work. She advised him to go back to warm up in the premises of his chess club to wait for the next bus which passed 30 minutes later.
Luckily for him, he was allowed on board this time.
Mea culpa of the STM
“In your logic, I guess her [la chauffeuse] she didn’t want to be held responsible for taking a child on her bus, but at the same time left him on the street in the cold, says her mother. It’s a little weird and a little shocking.”
However, there is no law in Quebec setting a minimum age to ride a bus, nor an STM policy in this area.
“It is a matter of authority and parental judgment, says Renaud Martel-Théorêt, spokesperson for the STM. However, employees are instructed to remain vigilant and are aware of the importance of intervening if they see situations where a child alone could be in danger or in distress, for example.
He added that the STM “regrets” young Viktor’s experience and that an “internal investigation” with the driver would be conducted.
“I think it’s normal”
Even though it was the second time he took the bus by himself, Viktor was also doing it to get used to it, since he will have to take it every day to start secondary school next year. Notice that Viktor missed a school year.
“It’s a bit traumatic for him,” Ms. Fortin explains. She is afraid to take it back on her own because she doesn’t want to end up with the same problem.
She “doesn’t see the problem” with a child her age traveling alone on the bus.
“I still think it’s normal. I also saw the kids from his school taking the bus home.”