Policy questioned after woman passes out on bus

Lorelei Rondeau is concerned about public safety after catching a bus from Duncan to Crofton on July 29.

Lorelei Rondeau is concerned about public safety after catching a bus from Duncan to Crofton on July 29.

Rondeau, who lives in Crofton, visited Duncan for an eye appointment before catching the No. 6 bus to go home in the early afternoon.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is responsible for providing public transit in the Valley, and contracts out the routes to private companies who provide the buses and the drivers.

The route that operates between Duncan and Chemainus is contracted out to First Canada ULC.

Rondeau said it was a busy day for bus travel, so the bus was almost full when a young woman, in her late 20s or early 30s, got on in north Duncan.

“She was unsteady on her feet and weaved from side to side as she made her way up the bus aisle,” Rondeau said.

“The young lady sat next to me, apologized and said she was drunk. She seemed rather gentle and she was in clean clothes, but she appeared to go to sleep after a few minutes.”

Rondeau said sometime later, she nudged the woman and asked if she was OK, but the young lady was apparently “passed out cold” and there was no response.

She said she was growing concerned about the woman and signalled to the bus driver that she needed some assistance.

“I told the bus driver what was happening and that my stop in Crofton was coming up, and he told me to just climb over her,” Rondeau said.

“The driver said that he had seen the lady earlier in the day in Chemainus and that he would see that she made it back there.”

Rondeau said she left the situation in the bus driver’s hands, but soon regretted her decision not to stay and ensure the woman was going to be OK.

“I became very concerned about her after I got off the bus because the young lady was passed out and couldn’t speak or fend for herself,” she said.

“I was surprised that the driver didn’t call an ambulance. She said she was drunk, but she could have had alcohol poisoning or been given a date-rape drug for all we knew. I wonder if there are policies around these types of incidents?”

Bill Oakes, a spokesman for First Canada ULC, said he discussed the incident with the bus driver on the route and was satisfied that proper protocol was followed.

He said it’s not uncommon for passengers to fall asleep on the bus and, if they are showing no apparent signs of distress, the protocol is to wait and check them at the end of the line if they are still asleep to ensure they are OK and determine their destination.

Oakes said that in this case, the young lady had woken up shortly after Rondeau exited the bus in Crofton and transferred to another bus.

“If it’s apparent that something is wrong with a passenger, either during the ride or at the end of the line, our drivers will call for medical assistance,” he said.

“Our job is to get people home safe.”