Monday, November 7, 2011

Check your behaviour

Update (5:30pm ): General Manager Alain Mercier sent a memo to members of Transit Commission.  You can find it on Alistair Steele's blog from the CBC. In the letter, Mr. Mercier makes an apology, believes the incident is "genuine", reassures that this is a rare case and is not the "norm".  Mr. Mercier said the right things and responded in a timely manner.

You can also read a reasonable response from an OC Transpo driver on his blog Drives in Circles.

Some are suggesting that the victim was trying to get attention given that he studies acting.  Passengers and at least one driver say that he is annoying. While the young man may be annoying to everyone on the bus, it doesn't appear that he was seeking attention to showcase his acting skills because we didn't see any kind of acting in the video.

A video of an OC Transpo driver swearing and threatening a mentally ill passenger has caught the attention of many including Mayor Jim Watson and even made national news.  The video is below (warning: there are f-bombs):

Normally, with any video featuring bad behaviour, there may be something that we missed before the video was captured. The video uploader, DartPak, explains the passenger was talking very loudly and when he approached the bus driver to talk to him, the bus driver flipped out on him. Apparently, the passenger apologized numerous times. The witness added in the comment section that the driver told the passenger to leave bus while it was on the Queensway and told CTV the driver and passenger have probably met in the past:

“I heard the bus driver say ‘every night it's the same thing with you, just sit down and shut up and take your meds,'” he said. “Just really inappropriate things in my opinion.”

An OC Transpo driver, familiar with the passenger, told the Ottawa Sun the passenger was “aggressive socially”, but harmless.

Swearing at a customer and threatening physical violence is completely inexcusable, unacceptable, and is not tolerated anywhere. In fact, that type of behaviour makes one unqualified to work with the public.  The behaviour of this driver has further supported the public perception that OC Transpo drivers provide terrible customer service. It's unfortunate because many bus operators are very kind and care about the safety of passengers. OC Transpo is attempting to re-brand themselves by displaying ads of their employees in a positive manner on buses and shelters .

As for the punishment, people on Twitter are calling for the bus driver to be fired. OC Transpo deals with such matters internally and discloses little information to the public.

ATU Local 279 President Garry Queale gave a response that could be just as upsetting as the video. Queale told the Sun: “There is a City of Ottawa bylaw that people aren’t supposed to take pictures on buses.”

This response is very similar to the one from the union representing STO drivers when an STO driver was caught on video filing paper work while driving his bus. I understand that drivers don't want to be filmed. But, when the driver is negligent behind the wheel or abuses a passenger, claiming “privacy rights” is not a valid excuse. When the union makes such a statement, the public can't take it seriously.

Video recording is prohibited on OC Transpo property unless it is for personal use (Section 19.7). In other words, as long as the video isn't used for commercial purposes, then it is considered legal.

So far, the only person who has apologized for the incident is the victim, which is very unsettling, and it may be the only apology we will ever hear.