School boy with autism stranded in Dural

Warren Thomson

A MOTHER was left “mortified” after her son who has autism was kicked off a bus and left on his own in Dural.

Melissa Hewitson’s 16-year-old son Tyler routinely catches a bus from Old Northern Road, Dural to Pennant Hills Station as part of his morning commute to Hornsby TAFE four times a week.

But on Friday, March 17, Tyler’s Opal card had insufficient funds. Instead of letting him tap on and stay on the bus, the bus driver told him to get off.

“I was mortified that they could chuck a kid off the bus,” Ms Hewitson said.

“He has very severe autism, and the way he gets to and from Hornsby TAFE is very structured.

“Tyler probably gave the bus driver a blank look because he didn’t know how to answer. 

“He might be tall, but at the end of the day he is still a kid.”

Ms Hewitson complained to Hillsbus, who told her that they had brought in the bus driver and reminded him of the rules and regulations in regards to school children.

“I didn’t get an apology. They just told me what happened and that’s it,” Ms Hewitson said.

“I have decided to highlight the issue because I am worried it might happen again.”

A Hillsbus spokesman told the News that the bus company regards child safety as a priority.

“Hillsbus takes very seriously its duty of care to passengers, particularly school students and often makes special efforts to ensure school children arrive at their destination,” the spokesman said.

“Unfortunately in this case, it was not clear to the driver that the person was a school age student, as he was not in uniform, or that he had a disability, and it was not a designated school route.

“It is all drivers’ responsibility to ensure that passengers pay their correct fare. In this case, the driver informed the person that he had insufficient funds and would need to top up his Opal card to be able to travel.

“However, Hillsbus acknowledges that this has caused distress to the person and his family and apologises to them.”