Sportran responds to discrimination accusations

By Tracy Clemons – bio|e-mail

Two Shreveport men are lodging accusations of discrimination against Sportran. The men say they've been denied service because of their physical disabilities.

Both men are in wheelchairs. They tell KSLA News 12 that Sportran drivers have treated them differently from the rest of the riders because of their chairs.

Rueben "Bootsy" Hogan says he's had trouble with Sportran ever since he became wheelchair bound in 1999.

"Every time I get ready to catch the bus, it either be something wrong with it. I know it don't be nothin wrong with it. They just be telling fibs,"he says.

James Chelette just started using a wheelchair in the last few months. He says his problems with the transit system started Wednesday with a foiled attempt to get to the State Fair.

"I was up here at Linwood and 77th, and the bus driver stopped and said 'I can't let you get on the bus with that motorized wheelchair because it's too big and because of your weight,'" Chelette says.

He tells KSLA News 12 the driver of the next bus also said he couldn't ride. We asked him if he'd ridden the bus since he's had the wheelchair. He says yes. Chelette says he wants to know why he's being denied service all of a sudden.

"He has a wheelchair that can't navigate onto the bus safely and get into the wheelchair tie down position where he can ride safely for the rest of the ride," says Sportran's General Manager Gene Eddy.

Eddy tells us a rider with a wheelchair the size of Chelette's has to lift it over the driver platform in order to get on-"It's unsafe for him. It's unsafe for the other passengers, and we don't allow it."

"Bootsy" Hogan has a direct suggestion for Sportran.

"Get the buses fixed. Equip them with the right gear so everyone can get on them and use transportation like it's supposed to be used."

Gene Eddy says they fix the lifts as soon as they can.

"Sometimes it may not get fixed the same day, but our lifts work," he says.

Anyone who can't ride the regular Sportran buses can call Liftline. It's a transit network that's designated for riders with disabilities.

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