Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bus wars

There was yet another disturbing incident yesterday involving an OC Transpo bus driver and passengers.

The bus was late, a passenger wanted to know why, the bus driver basically told him to mind his own business and abandoned the bus on a busy Ottawa street, leaving passengers in the lurch for a couple of hours.

Welcome to Ottawa's bus wars, ladies and gentlemen.

Bus drivers have had enough and they're not willing to take it anymore.

They get spit at, they get sworn at, they are secretly photographed, they are disrespected, especially by the management of the transit services which just recently cut 100 bus routes to save money. As a result of management's ineptitude, bus drivers are having to explain to cranky customers why the buses are running 45 minutes late, or not at all.

The public is hunting for bear, retaliating against the bus drivers who went on strike a couple of years back, leaving passengers stranded, having to hoof their way to work over the cold and busy Christmas season.

Every night on the CTV News there is yet another report of a bad driver who's texting, phoning, doing paperwork.

The whole mess came to a head this week with the firing of a driver who cussed out a kid with autism. The altercation was secretly recorded and posted anonymously on YouTube. The kid wanted an apology. The mayor wanted the driver's head.

This firing was completely out of line.

The bus driver should have been sidelined, as the union suggested. He should have been enrolled in anger management classes and given therapy to help him deal with losing his wife and his mother to cancer in the same year.

He shouldn't have been made a scapegoat for all the public anger against the transit service.

It is pretty clear that there are systemic problems within OC Transpo that must be addressed. The public is mad. The drivers are frustrated.

Something has to give.

Many of you will remember the mass shooting that occured at OC Transpo years back, engineered by a disgruntled employee.

After the shooting, OC Transpo took a good long look at itself and the internal problems that led to the shooting.

That's what has to happen now.

Bus drivers are ready blow.

And the city had better be ready for it.

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