I was reading the Chronicle Herald today and there was yet another article about these Metro bus drivers and their crazy antics. Seems to be in the news everyday lately!
Run-ins with bus drivers 'isolated incidents'
Metro Transit is describing a recent rash of road rage and racist actions by its bus drivers as an anomaly, but some people beg to differ.
Strange behaviour, including the sight Saturday of a driver stopping his bus near an anti-sealing protest outside the Public Gardens and running across the street to beat a stuffed seal with a collapsible baton, have folks scratching their heads and wondering what’s going on with the buses.
"I truly believe that this is just an isolated incident, even though they’ve occurred on top of each other right now," Erin Flaim, Metro Transit’s manager of service delivery, told CBC Radio on Wednesday.
"Most of the interactions that we have with our passengers are very positive. Our operators are amazing employees for us and are truly the ambassadors of Metro Transit."
Tell that to Graeme Gunn, a 38-year-old magazine editor who lives in Halifax.
"I’ve certainly had a few run-ins with bad Metro Transit drivers, many of whom think the amber light means speed up, who have cut me off as both a pedestrian and a driver, and who have played chicken with me at crosswalks," Mr. Gunn wrote in response to a request from The Chronicle Herald for stories about negative experiences with the city’s bus drivers.
"But my favourite episode was a few years ago on Trollope Street, across from what’s now Citadel High School. (My wife) Catherine and I were walking back toward our house and noticed all the buses lined up on the side of the road with their engines idling."
Mr. Gunn said he approached one of the drivers to ask whether the idling was necessary.
"His response? ‘F--- off.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?’ He replied, ‘Go shove it up your a--!’ Nice."
In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Gunn said he was "stunned" by the response.
"I was just flabbergasted. It wasn’t what I expected," he said.
Mr. Gunn lodged a complaint with Metro Transit but never heard back. A Metro Transit spokeswoman said recently that people who complain about its drivers must officially request a response to get one.
"That’s pretty crazy that you actually have to request a response," Mr. Gunn said. "Great customer service."
This newspaper was swamped with complaints about Metro Transit after reporting on a driver who twice used his bus on Feb. 27 to intentionally bump a courier van parked illegally on Barrington Street.
Perhaps the most embarrassing tale came from Diana Wilson, who described boarding a bus with a visually impaired woman she often meets at her stop.
"The driver proceeded to tell her she had the wrong CNIB (identification card)," Ms. Wilson wrote. "She told him it was the only one that she had. He told her it was no good and she needed to get a new one.
"So it so happens that another visually impaired passenger came on the bus," Ms. Wilson wrote.
"So the driver asked if he could borrow his ID and walked toward my bus friend. He said to my friend, ‘See, this is what your ID should look like,’ to which she (replied), ‘I can’t see it, dummy. I’m blind.’ "
Metro Transit only recently announced that as of June 30, it will no longer offer free rides to people with identification from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
Amber Collins-Grimmer and her daughter, who has cerebral palsy, were almost hit by a Metro Transit bus outside the IWK Health Centre on Feb. 2. The bus number was 1124 and the incident happened at 9:20 a.m.
"We were crossing the street at the corner of Robie and South streets heading to our car," Ms. Collins-Grimmer wrote. "My daughter has depth-perception issues and wears an eye patch. We were clearly in the crosswalk and the driver did not wait for us to finish crossing. We came within two feet of being hit as my daughter tried to climb over the snow that was in the street against the curb."
The concerned mother lodged a complaint on Feb. 4 with Metro Transit and was told she’d get a response within two days.
"That call never came. I called twice more and was never offered an incident number at all. I left a message for one supervisor who never returned my call, although I did finally get a hold of him. He then emailed this other supervisor who eventually called me around the middle of February.
"I was not offered an apology on this matter; however, I was offered a tour of the facilities with my two young kids. I figured this would be as close to an apology as I would get. However, this gentleman has rescheduled several times and now is avoiding our phone calls."
Ms. Flaim, of Metro Transit, was on vacation Wednesday and could not be reached.
Kevin Alexander, who is doing her job while she’s away, did not return calls.
Ms. Flaim told CBC she was surprised and disappointed with the behaviour of bus drivers that has made recent headlines, such as the time when a driver refused to allow on his bus a Muslim woman wearing a veil.
"I would be speculating at best as to what is contributing to that behaviour," she said.
"But I would believe that part of it has to do with the fact that they have gone through a fairly extensive winter and we’ve had to rely on them to provide service under what have been very difficult driving circumstances over this past number of months.
"In addition to that, our traffic patterns have been changing in that they are forced to provide service on tight roads (and) are having to provide service where other cars or vehicles have been impacting their ability to proceed."
Metro Transit carries 25 million passengers a year, Ms. Flaim said.
"Really, four or five (complaints) over the last couple of weeks are not significant enough to be concerned," she said.
It got me thinking ... this is just like the media with Pitbulls, and other "bad breeds".
They put every bad story out there about Pitbulls attacking this, or doing that. And that's all people read. PITBULLS AND OTHER BULLY BREEDS ARE BAD.
No wonder some people are terrified of them and haven't even met one!
Now, as for the bus drivers, I've never been on a bus. Yes I am sure there are some not so great drivers, but I bet there are also some really nice, really happy ones who aren't like this. But I am not saying what these specific ones did was right, not at all!
But for people who may have never been on these buses you don't know and you start to think METRO BUSES ARE BAD. When in all reality, you DON'T know that. You've just been reading all these bad stories.
Sure when I read story after story of these bus drivers being racist, hitting fake seals, etc, I thought wow, if I ever do need to take the bus I don't think I will. That's scary.
Same as people who have never met pitbulls, or only met a not so nice one. They hear all these stories and can only think one thing. BAD.