About a week ago, Ph.D. student Mohammad Reza Sardari was traveling on a Greyhound bus from Dallas, Texas to attend a conference in Kansas City, Missouri, when the driver insisted he leaves the bus at 3 a.m. during a stop in Wichita, Kansas. He is convinced the only reason is his name and accent.
Reza took to Facebook to share what happened “The driver lady came to me and woke me up and asked for my ticket. I showed her my ticket on my phone. Seeing my name on the ticket, which is ‘Mohammad’ she told me ‘Your ticket is not acceptable and since you don’t have a printed version of it, you have to leave the bus’. Then I found my printed ticket in my back pack and showed it to her, but again she asked me to leave the bus. I asked for the reason and she responded ‘I don’t want to talk to you!’”.
Reza works on research in urban planning and transportation engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also won a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was travelling to Kansas City to present a paper at a national transportation conference organized by the Transportation Research Board when he experienced the racist treatment by the driver for no apparent reason other than his name and accent.
In a video posted by Reza on facebook, he can be heard calmly asking for a reason while the driver insists he disembark, saying the police are coming. “You’re not going with me. I don’t want to talk to you no more. You get off my bus. Police is helping you out. Don’t worry, police is coming. You’re not going with me,” the driver says in the clip.
As Reza initially refused to leave the bus, a while male passenger threathened him. “It was a very scary situation,” he told NBC 5 channel. “One of [the passengers] approached me at my seat and loudly said [the] ‘F-word’ and told me, ‘If you are not leaving the bus we want to do something with you here in the bus.’”
When the police showed up, Reza said, they sided with the bus driver, and told him that since it is private property, the driver can refuse to provide him service. He left the bus around 3:40 a.m. With his conference starting in less than 5 hours, he paid $250 for a Lyft driver to travel the remaining 200 miles.
Making it successfully to the conference, Reza’s presentation thankfully went off without a hitch. One of the attendees even said his panel “was one of the highlights of the conference.”
“I stayed calm and courteous throughout the ordeal,” he said, urging people to share his story “to prevent these attitudes in future.”
When contacted by NBC 5, a spokesperson for Greyhound insisted that what Reza experienced is unacceptable from the company’s perspective.”Greyhound does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and is taking these allegations very seriously,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve identified the driver and are currently conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.”
Here is Reza’s full post on facebook:
My Trip & My Story! I rode a Greyhound Lines bus from Dallas, TX to Kansas City, MO to attend TRB conference and present the paper. While I was sleeping, the bus made a stop in Wichita, KS station at 3:00 am. Then the driver lady came to me and woke me up and asked for my ticket. I showed her my ticket on my phone. Seeing e-ticket, she told me “Your ticket is not acceptable and since you don’t have a printed version of it, you have to leave the bus.” Then I found my printed ticket in my back pack and showed it to her, but again she asked me to leave the bus. I asked for the reason and she responded “I don’t want to talk to you!” I felt that I needed a clear answer to that problem so I refused to leave the bus, so she called police and while waiting for police one of the passengers who was a white male guy threatened me while shouting at me “Don’t waste our time waiting for the police, otherwise I will … this bus!” After police came, they told me since this is a private property, this driver has the right to refuse providing service to me and they ignored my request on the reason why I was treated like that! I have to mention that I am a no drama guy and I stayed calm and courteous throughout the ordeal. I had to take LYFT to be able to attend the conference. I appreciate your suggestions or sharing this story to prevent these attitudes in future. Regards, Mohammad Reza Sardari 11-15-2017