High schooler Shakti Sharma was trying to take a TTC bus home Friday night when the bus operator refused to accept his student identification and allegedly hurled a racist slur at him.
Sharma said after he paid his $2 student fare on the 40 Junction bus, the driver said he was a “big high school student,” and demanded proof that he is a high school student.
When Sharma presented his Humberside Collegiate Institute ID, the driver rejected it and told him he needed to produce a TTC card.
“You can get off my bus if you don’t want to cooperate with me,” he recalls the bus driver saying to him.
Sharma said he even offered to pay the adult fare, but the driver pulled over and told him to get off.
“She came to a stop – no one was getting off or on – and said ‘All right, get off my bus,’” Sharma said.
According to TTC spokesperson Brad Ross, Sharma’s school identification was all he needed to show the driver.
“TTC student cards are no longer issued or required, though operators may ask for proof of age,” Ross said. The guidelines are outlined on the TTC’s website.
As he was walking off the bus, Sharma says the driver said “Damn Latinos.”
Ross said the allegation of racism is a serious concern for the TTC.
“The TTC takes very seriously its obligations around respect and dignity of employees, customers and the public, in addition to fully complying with the Ontario Human Rights Code,” Ross said.
He says the TTC is investigating the allegations.
“There is no place at the TTC for the alleged language or behaviour cited by the customer. We will be investigating this allegation with the seriousness with which it deserves.”
“I am not even Latino, but that shouldn’t even matter,” Sharma said. “Your race should never come into these situations. I have no interest in trying to get anyone fired – it is nothing about that. I would just hope that the TTC employees know their policy.”