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August 11, 2011

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Bus treatment of man debated

A bus driver was suspended yesterday after controversy was sparked online by a video clip showing her and a passenger forcing an elderly rag picker off the bus with bags of rubbish.

In the four-minute video, the rag picker, a man in his 70s, got on the No. 82 Bus in the city's Pudong New Area on Saturday carrying five bags full of empty bottles, papers and other garbage. He was confronted by the bus driver and a male passenger who told him to get off.

The two accused the man of "polluting the carriage with the dirty and smelly garbage," but the man refused to get off, saying he had already paid the bus fare with his transportation card, video shows.

"They are not rubbish, they are my money," the old man shouted to the passenger who kept trying to snatch his bags, the video shows.

The angry passenger finally grabbed the bags and threw them off the bus when it arrived at the next stop, with rubbish scattering around the bus carriage and the street outside. The passenger then left the scene.

The old man hurried to pick up the spilled contents, screaming and slapping the bus door harshly as the driver closed it to prevent him from going outside to collect the rest of the garbage.

The video had been viewed 229,000 times as of yesterday on a video website, with 5,000 comments.

An official surnamed Li with the Shangnan Public Transportation Co said the 48-year-old driver was suspended, and the company has not decided whether to fire her.

Passengers are not allowed to carry luggage weighing over 50 kilograms or bigger than 0.1 cubic meter. The company is investigating whether the rag picker violated the rules, including whether his bags contained flammable goods.

"The bus driver is now under great pressure," said Li. "On one hand, she should ban passengers from violating regulations to protect other passengers' rights, but on the other hand she didn't have law-enforcement power."

The driver, who refused to be named, told reporters the online reaction has caused great disturbance to her life. Even her son, a middle school student, refused to talk with her after watching the video.


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