Christchurch student separated from friends when bus driver slams door on her face

A mother is disappointed a Christchurch bus driver slammed the door in her daughter's face, separating her from her ...
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

A mother is disappointed a Christchurch bus driver slammed the door in her daughter's face, separating her from her friends on the bus. (File photo)

A Christchurch woman is disappointed her 11-year-old daughter was separated from her friends when a bus driver shut the door in her face while she tried to board.

Clare Marshall's daughter Tess was catching a public bus home from school with a group of three friends on June 8 when the incident happened.

The children, who were heading home from Ao Tawhiti School's temporary site at the University of Canterbury campus, had been told to stick together for safety when travelling to and from school.

Marshall said Tess was delayed slightly after school, and was running to catch up with her friends, who were within sight but ahead of her.

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The bus pulled up before any of the group had reached the stop, but the group of three joined the back of the queue while people were still boarding. 

The driver closed the door on one of them, who was getting her bus pass out, but then let her on. 

By this time Tess had run up to the bus, and was just about to get on, when the driver shut the door in her face, said Marshall.

The three girls who were on the bus claim the driver said "too bad" as he closed the doors. 

The girls then asked to get off the bus to stay with their friend, but the driver would not let them. 

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Marshall said her daughter "wasn't overly fazed" about being left behind, and hopped on the next bus after texting Marshall. 

But she is "a bit indignant" the families had things in place to keep their children safe when the parents are not with them, and the community had worked against them.

"He [the driver] knew they were together and he split them up. That is the most unforgivable bit of it."

"I believe it's as important, being courteous and polite to your customers, as getting them from A to B."

Marshall, who was waiting for Tess at the Bus Interchange on Colombo St, planned to take down the driver's details when the bus arrived. 

She was unable to do so as a fault with the bus detectors at the interchange gates meant the vehicles were unable to park in their usual place, so Marshall missed Tess getting off the bus.

She has sent a letter to the Environment Canterbury (ECan) run Metro, which manages the bus service. They have received the letter, but are yet to respond.

ECan senior manager public transport Stewart Gibbon said they were following up with the operator "to gain a better understanding of the reported events in order to inform any actions."

Once they were able to make a determination, the customer would be contacted, he said.

Gibbon said customer service was a "key component" of  ECan's and their operators' focus, as was working to keep buses to schedule. 

"Drivers have discretion to respond to service requests within reasonable boundaries and where it is safe to do so.

"Where customers request a bus to stop while it is in motion, it will do so at the next available bus stop."

Despite the incident, Marshall said there were some really nice bus drivers out there who "really do make the difference". 

"There are people out there doing an amazing job and going above and beyond … and there are people who don't and that's a shame."

 - Stuff

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