Friday, 15 March 2013

Springing Into Action Without Doing A Damned Thing

I've written about this kind of thing before, but every once in awhile, I like to rehash some of my personal pet peeves.

That's a video that someone posted of a bus driver stopping to get coffee on the #8 route. I found that link via Twitter, in response to a discussion between a passenger and OC Transpo's official Twitter feed. Essentially, OC Transpo told the complainant that the driver was in fact allowed to stop and get a coffee as long as he is on schedule, which after checking the GPS data, he was.

You may not like being delayed. I get that. On the #8 route, along that stretch of Alta Vista, the schedule allows for traffic delays that do not exist on every trip. What winds up happening is that the bus gets ahead of schedule by as much as 2 minutes before the bus services the apartment buildings just past Dorion. Many drivers will stop and wait it out as they are required to do. Some even grab a coffee at the Tim Hortons. The lucky ones get posted on YouTube.

George Orwell wrote about a totalitarian society in his acclaimed book "1984". If you haven't read it, you should. The premise of the book is that society complies to the absolute strictness of the government dubbed "Big Brother". Every action of every person is recorded, scrutinized, and reacted to by the population Groupthink. Any trace of independent thought is erased by this Groupthink, and exposed to all as an example of the righteousness of the system.

YouTube is about as close as we get to Big Brother in today's society. Your every action, regardless of whether it is a spectacular fall off of a skateboard, or a bus driver getting coffee, is published for public consumption and scrutinization.

In this case, we are a little less than a Big Brother. What we have become in this case is the Whiney Little Brother, tugging at mom's pant leg, hoping upon hoping to be noticed and supported by the public, in the hopes of getting the mean bus driver in trouble.

I find it pretty pathetic.

What is it about this society that links real inaction to a sense of accomplishment, anyway?

The above story is Kelly Egan's take on inaction. He reiterates Hollaback!'s complaint that OC Transpo doesn't take assaults against women seriously enough. That may be true on a management level, and to be honest, I have no opinion on Hollaback!'s dealings with the company. I was not at the meetings.

I can tell you that drivers take assaults seriously. Certainly more seriously than Kelly Egan did.

The meat of the story is the part where Egan was flagged down by someone he suspected was in distress. His further investigation found a well dressed woman he suspected was being harassed by two "Rascals", as he put it.

If I suspected that the woman was in distress, I would have called 9-11.

Kelly instead decided to stop his car, walk over there, watch the scene play out, call OC Transpo's security department the next morning, and then write a column about how they could have watched the security video to see if the two men were wanted for something. Oh, and he's mad that they never called him back. All this in defense of the opinion that OC Transpo doesn't do enough to prevent assaults.

Imagine taking this call as an emergency control officer.

"I saw something happen last night. Well, not really happen... the woman fled to safety on a bus. I think she may have been in distress, but I'm not sure if it was a domestic dispute... or if she was in trouble... Can you check your cameras, and cross reference those two guys with your super bus-security computers to see if they're actually bad guys? My conscience is killing me. Oh, and call me back because if I know the outcome of this, it will help resolve, well, nothing."
(this is not a quote, it is a parody)

I like Kelly Egan as a columnist, but this column is a lame take on his fumbled actions.

Egan also takes a shot at OC Transpo's firing of Kim Westom-Martin, as if her gender played a role in her firing, or reflects their opinion on assaults on women. Rubbish.

If you see someone in distress on or off OC Transpo property, call 9-11. Report the issue. Get a professional on the scene. The worst possible outcome is a mistaken phone call, and an apology.

And if your bus driver takes a coffee break, ask him the question when he gets back on the bus before you post it on YouTube. You may just find out he's human.

Either way, real action doesn't commence with soliciting public reaction.

You just wing up tugging on pant legs.


  1. I happen to be the one questioning OC Transpo on Twitter about the Route 8. I totally understand explanation about the need for added time for traffic on Alta Vista and do often see the Route 8 on Alta Vista at both Dorian and Caledon (the apartment building stop) all the time waiting for the schedule to catch up to them.

    What I found odd was that OC Transpo bus drivers are allowed to leave their in service unattended in order to grab a Tim Hortons coffee. Having recently moved from York Region (serviced by YRT) where the same act would have been a no no, I thought I would look more into it. I was floored, and hence why I asked a couple of times to ensure I had the message correct, that OC Transpo bus drivers are allowed to get coffee while their buses are in revenue service (i.e. with passengers aboard travelling along the designated route). The video (not taken by myself) was a perfect illustration of what occurred.

    I still believe for security reasons that the driver should not have left the bus. If Kelly Eagen's situation had occurred on the bus with the OC Transpo driver inside the Tim Hortons I believe there may have been an issue. Fortunately there was not.

    Finally, I do enjoy reading your blog about the oddities of transit from a driver's side of view. It is pretty enlightening.

    1. I'm not so much interested in the policy itself, at least here in a public forum. I follow policy, and that's about all I can say about it. The real focus in my line of thought is this idea that we need to broadcast things we think will embarrass others in an attempt to resolve a problem. In Kelly's case, it felt to me like he was the one embarrassed, and the actions he took were almost an attempt to ease his conscience days after the fact by shifting the issue to the system rather than his own response to what he later realized might have been a dangerous situation.

  2. I've never been harassed on the bus but now I have been rehearsing "what if" and I pity the fool who takes me on! One thing I would do first is shout to the driver "stop the bus!" and/or "call 911!" I wonder if a driver would keep the doors shut or allow the perp to run away? There is a greater danger in keeping someone like that ON the bus, I agree. Confrontation is never pleasant and it can be terribly dangerous. What I might do if I saw a fellow passenger being harassed is also a different story from being harassed myself. If it was me, I would use the elbows and stomp on his feet. If it was someone else being harassed, maybe not so much. It's no longer self defence at that point.

    But it is good that we discuss these things ahead of time.