DOES THIS BAGLOOK DANGEROUS?
By NERIDA BLOK
LISMORE mum Lynelle Holtby was left stranded at Murwillumbah by a CountryLink bus because the driver believed her baby's nappy bag was too dangerous to be allowed on board.
Ms Holtby, 29, said she tried to get on the bus after a day trip to Tweed Heads with the bag, which carried her infant son Jake's nappies and medications, which were needed for the three-hour trip back to Lismore.
But the bus driver told her she could not get on unless she put the baby bag into baggage compartment under the bus.
Ms Holtby reluctantly agreed, but when she tried to change Jake while the bus was stopped at at Murwillumbah she was told she could not take the bag on board, even while the bus was stopped, and that she would have to change him on the ground.
"He said: 'If you're not happy with it, get off the bus' and he started to pull my stuff out," Ms Holtby said.
"He just left us. He got on the bus and drove off."
CountryLink backed the driver, saying he was following rules banning passengers from bringing food and large bags onto the buses and saying that Ms Holtby could have continued her trip to Lismore. He said the company had an established policy that doesn't allow food and large items of luggage on coach services for the safety and benefit of all passengers.
However, Ms Holtby said: "We couldn't understand because he was letting people take on pillows, blankets and handbags that were bigger than the nappy bag."
She said it was important to have access to the nappy bag containing Panadol, bongella (a gum soother), a sterilised container with Jake's dummies, cream, nappies, nappy wipes and baby powder.
"He reckoned it was too big but it would have fitted underneath the seat and they have luggage compartments on the top," she said.
"He said if the bags didn't go underneath the bus we couldn't get on.
"He yelled at us, 'my bus, my rules, don't like it get off'."
Lynelle complied with the driver's request but at Murwillumbah, asked him if she could get the bag so she could change Jake's nappy.
"He turned to me and said you can't take any large bags on the bus," she said.
"He wanted me to change him on the ground.
"He said 'if you're not happy with it get off the bus' and he started to pull my stuff out."
By this stage, Lynelle said she became upset.
"Jodie came off the bus and said not to worry, that she would ring for help," Lynelle said.
"She called and woke up her cousin, a shift worker, (to drive the two-and-a-half hour round trip from Lismore) to pick us up from Murwillumbah.
"He (the driver) just left us. He got on the bus and drove off.
"I felt demoralised and not respected as a mother and that he didn't care about our safety and well being."
Lynelle said she had not been reimbursed for her ticket but was not concerned about the money.
"The issue is how can he can do this to a woman with a baby," she said.
"We shouldn't be treated like this.
"If it wasn't for us, he wouldn't have a job."
The Country Link spokesperson said the driver's report differed from the events that have been reported by the passengers.
"The driver told Country Link the passengers had intended to board the service with food, drink and a large item of luggage," he said.
"The coach driver acted within the established policy in relation to taking food and large items of luggage onto coaches.
"These items are not allowed on coach services for the safety and benefit of all passengers, although small luggage items are acceptable.
"The driver says the pas- sengers were not asked to leave the service, they departed on their own accord."
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