Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, May 10, 2013 --- A Black woman in her 40s who was pushed and yelled at by a bus driver and who immediately filed a complaint with the Montreal Transit Authority (MTA) is shocked to find out recently that her file, including the videotape of the incident, seemed to have been erased from the record.

Last February 8th, Erika (not her real name), a professional working in the downtown area, took the 144 bus to work. There was a snowstorm that morning, resulting in the bus being considerably behind schedule. She and many other bus riders waited at the bus stop on Atwater and Dr. Penfield for some 40 minutes in over minus 20 degree temperatures and blowing snow. Because of the cold, she decided to take the 165 Cote-de-Neiges bus to Guy and took the metro to Atwater to take the 144 bus at the terminus. The bus finally arrived and people began to board. As her turn came and she got on the bus, the bus driver notified riders that the bus was being rerouted instead of going uphill on Atwater.

Erika had barely mentioned that there was no sign of the bus being rerouted when the bus driver, who was clearly in a bad mood, stood up from his seat, pointed a finger at her face, shouted something at her in English and pushed her on the chest and shoulders, as if to shove her to the rear. Flabbergasted at the assault, she hurriedly sat down and jotted down the bus information.

When she arrived at the office, she immediately phoned the MTA to file a complaint. She phoned because she wanted her voice to be heard as she had complained before in writing. A MTA staff member called her back that Friday evening and left a voice message. Erika returned the call the following Monday and spoke to a male representative, who said he would speak to the driver. Three more days passed by before she could reach him again by phone and was told by the representative that he had talked to the driver on Wednesday.

The representative said that the driver acknowledged his actions and also said that there were other complaints about the same driver on that day. Erika indicated that she would file a police report about the assault, and requested the file number as well as the video recording of the incident. At that moment, the MTA representative’s tone changed and told that she could only have the file number, which he gave to her.

Erika then went to police station 9 on Cavendish Blvd to file the complaint. Several days later, she was informed by the police officer who took her complaint at the station that according to the officer’s discussion with the MTA, the videotape had been erased after seven days and that despite the file number, Erika’s complaint file did not exist.

Considering her case was taking an increasingly problematic turn, Erika sought help from CRARR for further action.

“This case is not simply about a Black woman being assaulted on a city bus, but more importantly, it is about the very disturbing manner in which the MTA handled my complaint,” said Erika.

“There seems to be an erasure or suppression of evidence here, although I filed a complaint right away and that there were clear exchanges with complaint staff about the incident before the so-called 7-day deadline,” she noted. “I intend to go as far as possible to find full answers to my questions.”

Any persons who witnessed this incident on Bus 144 or who have experienced similar problems accessing videotaped and other evidence from the STM to defend themselves in court or for their complaints, are encouraged to contact CRARR at