Driver suspended after 'bus apartheid' reports
26 Mar 2013, 07:12
Published: 26 Mar 2013 07:12 GMT+01:00
- Bus passengers 'divided according to skin colour' (25 Mar 13)
- Ferry owners dismiss one 'bus apartheid' claim (25 Mar 13)
The move comes following media reports over the weekend that passengers were separated by the driver according to their appearance as they boarded buses travelling from Stockholm to catch the ferry to the Finnish archipelago island of Åland
One passenger, Samer Chatila, told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper the driver made "Swedes" and "foreign-looking" people travel on separate buses between Stockholm and the Eckerölinjen ferry terminal in Grisslehamn.
Christer Litzell, CEO of the People Travel Group (PTG) bus company, had an extended meeting with the accused driver on Monday as the company launched an investigation into the incident.
"He doesn't really have the same understanding of events that's been in the newspapers. It's one person's word against another's, which makes it a little tougher," Litzell told the TT news agency.
While the driver has been suspended as PTG carries out its investigation, the company's efforts to contact Chatila to discuss the incident have so far been unsuccessful.
"We haven't been able to reach him and he hasn't contacted us. We only have his version of events from what's in the newspapers," Litzell said.
On Tuesday, PTG plans to meet with its drivers and the ferry company while its internal investigation is expected to be completed after Easter.
"What's important for us is that we now do the right thing moving forward. None of our passengers should ever feel discriminated against in any way," Litzell told TT.
Allegations of discrimination on buses bringing passengers to Viking Line ferries also surfaced at the weekend.
Viking Line on Monday disputed the claims, however, explaining its records indicated there was only one bus taking passengers from Örebro to Stockholm on December 21st, the date passengers claim they were placed on separate buses according to their ethnicity.
The company added that drivers involved in the alleged incident "strongly deny" having divided passengers according to ethnicity or skin colour.
"We have zero tolerance for special treatment, racism, or sexism at Viking Line," company CEO Peter Hellgren said in a statement.