Thursday, November 3, 2016

Transit Officer Fines Blind Woman for Using Disabled Bus Pass // Didn't Believe that She's Actually Blind Even After She Offered to Remove her Prosthetic Eyes

Just read a story about a woman in Milwaukie, OR, who received a $175 ticket and got kicked off the local train after enforcement officers refused to believe that she is blind.

Cheree Heppe receives a monthly "Honored Citizen" pass to receive unlimited rides on all of TriMet's buses, trains, and streetcars. Earlier this week, two TriMet fare enforcement officers asked to look at her pass. They then asked for a second for of identification after she showed them her pass. It turns out that she was supposed to ask for an "Honored Citizen ID" to go with her monthly passes. She told them that she didn't know about this.

They told her that it's clearly written on the back of the pass. She pointed out that she is blind. They didn't believe her. She pointed out her seeing eye dog. They didn't believe that her dog is an actual service dog -- even though she had the dog's certification paperwork with her. She then offered to take out her prosthetic eyes in order to prove that she is blind. They declined this offer.

Long story made short, they kicked her off of the train, but not before fining her $175.

She ended up walking to a relatively nearby TriMet office and got her TriMet Honored Citizen ID card. But that didn't stop her from complaining to the local media. TriMet offered this response to KATU News:
Ms. Heppe talked with our customer service staff yesterday and was informed that a separate ID is required to qualify for the discounted Honored Citizen fare. When she went to the TriMet Ticket Office yesterday, she was issued a permanent Honored Citizen ID. We regret that she was unaware of the requirement for a separate ID, and have voided the $175 ticket.
Ms. Heppe has also complained to the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind about this situation. She noted that she is hoping to help TriMet become more ADA compliant with their policies and public interactions. For example, the TriMet enforcement officers could have recognized her obvious disability and provided her with instructions on how to remedy this error before giving her a stiff fine and kicking her to the curb.


Erin Begley said...

That's so sad & she should sue.

Erin Begley said...

I feel for her.