Disgusted Bus Rider Stages Impromptu Protest
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 1, 2003
NEW YORK, NEW YORK--When he left home Thursday morning, Anthony Trocchia had no intention of becoming the center of a media event.
He just wanted to buy some books.
But when bus after bus came by with no working wheelchair lift, Trocchia, who is president of Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, decided it was time to take action.
He parked his electric wheelchair in front of the fourth Green Line bus that had a broken lift -- and refused to move.
As the bus sat idle at the corner of Queens Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue, Trocchia pulled out his cell phone and called newspapers and television stations to report his act of civil disobedience.
Several members of the Queens Independent Living Center, which is across the street from the bus stop, heard about Trocchia's impromptu protest. Soon he was joined by two blind people and five people in wheelchairs from the center.
"I didn't plan on doing this," Trocchia explained. "We're just looking for the basic accommodations."
The traffic at the busy intersection was soon snarled as drivers and passersby stopped to see what all the commotion was about.
Over the next two and a half hours Trocchia and his cohorts were visited by several reporters -- even a news helicopter hovered overhead at one point.
"I was out here trying to take the bus," Trocchia told WNBC-TV. "Four buses came with broken lifts. I finally got disgusted and decided to block the bus."
When a Green Bus Lines executive asked for Trocchia's cooperation, telling him that three buses with working lifts were waiting for him, Trocchia refused.
"I want to bring embarrassment to this company that is long overdue," he told one reporter.
"This has been going on a long time. It's not just a matter of getting on a bus now and being whisked away. Now we have a chance to get it on the news."
When a police sergeant asked him to move the protest onto the sidewalk, Trocchia said he would stay in the street as long as news photographers were still arriving.
Then the police told the bus driver to back the bus up and steer around the protesters, but they quickly maneuvered their wheelchairs to keep it from moving.
Trocchia finally stopped his demonstration when he felt he had made his point.
Green Bus Lines is one of several private companies that provides bus service in the city. Company officials blamed the city for not maintaining lifts on the buses that the city owns.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires buses to have working wheelchair lifts.
The company issued an apology to Trocchia for any inconvenience it may have caused him.