An Open Letter to National Express

Dear National Express,

A National Express bus at Bristol bus station. Photo by Dan Regan 04/12/2015 Reporter - Copyright - Local World

It has come to my attention that a paying customer was kicked off of your Bristol to London Coach earlier this week for having ‘too much luggage’ and for being abusive to your staff at some point before the Coach left the garage.

However, it has also come to my attention that many of these claims made by your company, in defence of the decision; starkly contrast the claims made by several eye-witnesses.

In fact, I am inclined to believe your statement, for simply kicking a person off the bus for no apparent reason is reasonable grounds for someone to believe they were being discriminated against, especially when that person just so happens to be a Muslim.

In fact, for someone to believe they were discriminated against based on their race or religion, is good enough to mount a criminal investigation against members of your organisation. If the eye witnesses were to agree with the plaintiff,  National Express would be criminally liable from a legislative standpoint and I am sure the brand image would be nearly destroyed.

From what I understand, National Express runs a Service between Bristol Coach Station and London Victoria every day and each person is allowed up to one bag to go into the hold and two items of hand luggage. I also know that on your less busy services, this rule is relaxed- such as on your 10.30am service on a Thursday- precisely the time and day when this paying customer was removed from the Coach service you provide.

Of course, I can understand that someone can have too much luggage and therefore, can be in violation of your carefully considered rules. However, one of the eyewitnesses claims that the man who boarded onto one of your coaches- the Muslim man who was kicked off- had less luggage than she had, yet she was allowed to stay on the coach.

In fact, she admitted to the Bristol Post that she had so many bags, she was using the seat next to her as a storage space; something you, National Express have encouraged people not to do in your promotional material.

Perhaps this man simply became a victim of poor timing. That his opportunity to exploit your window of lax policy enforcement was mistimed, meaning his excess luggage was simply too much for the vessel to carry, that his small excess was unacceptable because everyone else had excess luggage also.

However,  several eye withnesses claim that the gentlemen in question seemed to adhere to your more stricter luggage policy, having brought only three bags, including the one that should have gone into the hold.

In any case, how does someone with excess luggage manage to get onto a coach in the first place? I know you have ticket attendants at the door of the coach and an assistant who puts customers bags into the hold. If anyone during his boarding process thought the man was in violation of your baggage procedure, they could have, should have highlighted this before he boarded.

In any instance, to allow someone to board the vessel before removing them because you failed to recognise an infraction they were committing- like other customers who were not removed, is not only embarrassing, it is dehumanising also and it most certainly something that can be interpreted as targeted behaviour.

Which brings me onto your second claim; that the Gentleman who boarded the 10.30am Coach was rude to several members of staff. Whilst this is more plausible when you consider the rage someone must be feeling for being physically removed from a Coach- how does this behaviour become reasoning for him being removed beforehand? Or is this another ill thought excuse you have conceived to create your version of a perceived reality?

I know, as an ex-National Express customer myself, that if someone is rude to a member of staff before boarding the Coach, they are never allowed to board. In every case I have seen first hand, if a member of staff is verbally or physically abused by a passenger, a member of Security at the station or Police, remove that person, not another member of staff. It would be foolhardy to have another member of staff’s wellbeing jeopardised and in any case, this would be no different.

So what I am inclined to believe, is that on this day; December 3rd 2015, a Black Muslim man boarded your 10.30am National Express Coach Service to London Victoria. Upon his arrival he was allowed onto the coach without issue. It was, as stated by both the victim and eyewitnesses, that his Religious attire became a problem for two passengers, who them complained; forcing another paying passenger off the bus.

This man committed no crime, nor was in violation of any of your policies, so his removal from a service he paid for was not only unjust, it is unlawful, especially as this man was removed for his Religious beliefs.

Because you have been such cowards in reacting to this scenario and upholding an entirely unsubstantiated  Islamaphobic decision, with nonsensical lies, I will no longer be using your Coach services to or from any destination until this matter is resolved and the people who are responsible are held as such.

A Believer in Civil Liberty.