Elderly couple denied ride on bus in Port St. Lucie

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - An elderly couple say they're not allowed on a public bus.
 
On Friday morning, Susan Becker and her husband William waited at the bus stop on Walton Road near U.S. Route 1 in Port St. Lucie. When the bus arrived, the driver got out to talk with them.

"The guy called his supervisor and they just said they're not gonna let us on the bus anymore," says Susan Becker.
 
A few minutes later, the bus left without them. It's the third time.
 
"Disappointed and angry," says William Becker, who has been in a wheelchair for about seven years, "I know it's a violation of my civil rights."
 
"Their original reasoning was I couldn't get him on the bus myself," says Susan Becker.
 
Susan Becker says she was told it takes too long for William to get on board. The Treasure Coast Connector told NewsChannel 5 when people take 8 or 10 minutes to get onboard it can hold up a fixed route and put the bus behind. 

Susan Becker says she has offered to bring help so they can get on the bus quickly. She says she was told the answer is still no.
 
The Treasure Coast Connector released a statement:
 
"Although the fixed route system is 100% accessible, individuals need to be independent in order to manipulate the system. In this particular case the individual requires assistance to get on and off the bus."
 
Buses are equipped with wheelchair ramps. 

Susan Becker says they've been using this bus route for more than 5 years and didn't have a problem until recently.
 
"Once a month I wanted to take him so that he could get a haircut and get some lunch and maybe see a movie," says Susan Becker.
 
WPTV spoke with a local attorney who says the law requires public entities to offer identical services to people with disabilities. 

The Treasure Coast Connector does offer another bus for people with disabilities. The Beckers have used that but they say you must make appointments and they say it's not consistent.
 
"I made an appointment at 12 o'clock," says Susan Becker, "They got here after 12:30. It takes a very long time sitting and waiting for them to come especially if you're out there in the heat."
 
William Becker lives at Emerald Healthcare which is across the street from the bus stop. When administrators and employees saw what happened they volunteered to take the Beckers to the mall so William could get a haircut. It took a few minutes to get William Becker's wheelchair loaded onto a van. 

Susan Becker says they should be able to do the same thing on a public bus.
 
"You should allow us on there," says Susan Becker. 


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