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Blind MBTA Passenger Denied Entry At Chinatown Says He Felt 'Humiliated'

BOSTON (CBS) – MBTA passenger Jerry Tolbert says he was humiliated by the two contractors at the Chinatown stop on the Orange Line.

His reaction is to a confrontation with two employees of the contractor that provides customer service at MBTA stations.

The two workers, who have been fired, were employed by Block by Block, a company that has a $4 million annual contract to provide customer service ambassadors for up to 24 MBTA facilities.

The company started August 2 at the Chinatown and Mass Ave. stations.

On Thursday, two Block by Block ambassadors tried to stop a blind man who was trying to get through fare gates at the Chinatown station without a required pass.

MBTA Contractors
A sight-impaired man looks for his walking stick after it was thrown a short distance from him. (Image Credit: Transit Police)

During the altercation, the man dropped his walking stick and one of the ambassadors was accused of tossing it out of his reach.

Victim Jerry Tolbert says all he was trying to do was to catch the subway.

"A lot of humiliation, a lot of disrespect, you know what I'm saying?" Tolbert said. "It shouldn't have come to that."

Tolbert says he just wants to feel safe again.

"I'm out here on the streets and I'm homeless. I want to be secure," he said.

A Transit Police officer returned the walking stick to the man and allowed him to pass through the gates.

"The MBTA is deeply saddened by the contractors' completely unacceptable behavior and the T moved immediately to ensure these individuals were terminated," said Interim MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak in a statement.

"Additionally, the MBTA has ordered mandatory re-training for all of the company's personnel who interact with MBTA customers and will closely monitor the process as it moves forward."

Transit police are taking a closer look at the incident.

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