Third Party Complaints…

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This is not cool…

How much more abstract could you possibly be? Not only that, but the situation doesn’t even involve the person that’s complaining.

Before anyone jumps on the bandwagon, I’ve had positive comments come my way via Twitter about my driving and personal skills, so I just want you to know that this isn’t a hate on for social media.

I’ve been subject to this before on a much larger scale. My third party complaint cost me 7 months on the job because I was accused of something I didn’t do. This is how TTC treated it;

  • Someone wrote in accusing me of assaulting a passenger, not the person that wrote the letter…someone else.
  • TTC got that person to sign a sworn letter.
  • TTC staff went undercover with this person and basically said, ok, the driver will be here at this time. We need you to positively identify him.
  • A month after the fact, TTC decided to inform me of the complaint against me and dismiss me without pay.
  • My Superintendent (at the time) stated to me, and I’ll NEVER forget this, “the only reason we know it was you is because you were the only white driver in the area at the specified time frame.”
  • Went to several meetings, where my fate was decided prior to even sitting down.
  • I never met my accuser.
  • No alleged victim ever stepped forward.
  • There were no charges files with the Police.
  • After all the steps and meetings, TTC permanently fired me and I had to hand in my badge and keys.

So up to this point, simply put, some disgruntled passenger wrote something on a piece a paper and without any evidence or proof, TTC (and this person) had ended my career. Trust me when I say that I was shattered, that I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. I broke down in the meeting.

Thankfully the Union listened to my case and provided me with a Lawyer to go Arbitration. Which at the end of the day, 7 months down the road, TTC and myself settled prior to the hearing. So I got fired, 7 months off of the job, then reinstated without loss of seniority, etc,etc.

So forgive me if I’m a little sour about third party complaints, but people seriously shouldn’t be putting their noses where they don’t belong. That being said, I am all for people complaining third party like if you feel that your life is in danger while you are on the bus. If you feel something isn’t right with the driver…but honestly, you should probably be contacting the Police at that point, not TTC Customer Service.

I guess all that I’m asking the general public is be careful and truly think about what you’re saying/writing. Being a third party means that you don’t know the situation 110% because you are not directly involved. You might end up costing someone their job..their house…their family……everything.

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Free to ask Friday, the Vomit Comet

Wilson W. writes

How often do you get people who are ill on your bus? Like need an ambulance?

 

Thank you for writing in Wilson 🙂

I think it really depends on the kind of shift that you do. Personally speaking, it doesn’t happen that often on my bus. People have been ill on my bus less than 10 times in 10 years. I’ve certainly had at least as many, if not more ambulance calls because of fights or injuries.

The night buses would certainly be more prone to this from people drinking or hopping on the bus after last call. Another hot spot for this types of incidences is the CNE.

Is it unbearable?

I can honestly say that it’s not the most pleasant smell in the world lol. Coming from several years of working in a hospital, I tend to be able to block it a little. I just feel bad to the other passengers that have to leave the bus and wait for another one because it is a health and safety issue and we are not allowed to be in service when there are exposed bodily fluids in the vehicle.

$4 Million to clean up snow….it helps if you CLEAN IT UP?!?!?!

I’d just like to mention to the public sector that while you think that the City of Toronto did a good job of cleaning up the city streets….as a bus driver, I can tell you I’m not one of the 60% that think the $4 Million budgeted for the “big” dumping of snow a couple of weeks ago was money well spent.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the TTC doesn’t have any control over maintenance of the bus stops; it’s city property. And let me tell you just how disgusted I am with the post clean up of several key intersection stops. I had called into my supervisor almost everyday up to a week after the snowfall for things like not being able to open the back doors, 5 days after the fact. Or the bus stop hasn’t been plowed at all. Even one of the bridges that I drive over, people were walking on the road 4 or 5 days after because the sidewalk hadn’t been plowed yet. Two weeks after the snowfall and one particular very busy intersection’s stop STILL doesn’t allow for the back doors to open.

I’m pretty sure that this administration amended the criteria for street plowing, but I honestly don’t know about the sidewalk/bus stop clearing criteria. All I can say is that it has been truly pathetic and like everything else in this city, things will be ignored until something bad happens because Toronto is 100% incident driven.

 

Cyclists…

The past summer I had the pleasure of working down on Queen’s Quay as a shuttle bus replacement for the streetcar revitalization project. The route was simple; Union Station to the CNE and back. Quite honestly, I chose this crew because I felt that I needed a change of pace and man, did I get it.

First of all, let me just say that all you people down on the Quay rock! I realize that your world was turned upside down when you lost your streetcars, especially during the busiest time of year for that area. But it was such a pleasure to work down there because y’all treated us bus drivers with respect and spoke to us like we were human, which is pretty much a 180 from the regular routes I normally drive. I honestly would’ve signed more work down there if I was given the choice, but as always with my luck, the Commission always seems to change things up when the needle on the “happy meter” gets too high.

The only thing that I was severely disappointed with while working that area was the lack of respect when it came to the cyclists. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been hearing so many pity stories about the way cyclists are treated by motor vehicles and how their rights to share the road are being striped, etc,etc. And the truth is, prior to working downtown, I had sympathy for the cyclists. But that quickly changed once I started driving downtown.

I found that the majority of the cyclists had absolutely no respect for my bus or the rules of the road. Every single day I would see dozens upon dozens of infractions committed by these two wheeled menaces. Things like riding through red lights, weaving in and out of traffic, riding in the middle of the lane and purposely blocking vehicles. Even when they had their own bike lane, that still wasn’t good enough.

I remember being at Yonge and Wellington ready to make a right hand turn. When the light turned green and I was waiting for the pedestrian traffic to clear, this cyclist was attempting to dodge between the two lanes and his handlebar ended up rubbing the driver’s side of the bus even though I was stationary. This guy actually started yelling at me and decided to park his bike in front of the bus, get off of his seat and take my picture…right in the middle of rush hour. Another goofball decided to pull out onto Queen’s Quay from a driveway while I was going about 40 KPH causing me to slam on the brakes. After I used my horn, he proceeded to ride right in the middle of the lane to Spadina, park his bike perpendicular to the front of the bus, actually get off of his bike and start yelling profanities at me. Of course he busted a move when he saw me calling a supervisor.

As I mentioned, prior to my experience downtown, I honestly had a ounce of sympathy for cyclists, now I wouldn’t support them if they paid me. eBikes are even worse because they think just because they don’t have to pedal all the time they can drive 20-30 KPH down the middle of a road or dodge sewers or potholes like no one’s business.

And the thing that seriously annoys me is that there is absolutely no accountability. You don’t need insurance or a license. There’s no training or any sort of courses. And if you try and report an cyclist for unlawful behaviour, they will never be caught unless there’s an officer standing/driving right beside you.

I would love to see cyclists/eBikes have to display some sort of license plate/registration number so that motorists could file a report against them, should they be riding unlawfully. After all, they use the same roads we do, they should be licensed and help contribute money towards the maintenance of the cities infrastructure. Make them pay insurance just like a motorcycle or a car and maybe, just maybe they might play nice.

If you’ve had any experiences with cyclists/eBikes, please comment and share your thoughts. Maybe together we can get someone to listen to our concerns before anyone else has to get killed.

Where are your children ma’am?

So the other day I’m driving along with an almost full bus and I drive up to the stop located at an intersection with traffic lights. I had serviced the stop and decided to stall the light as there were only a few seconds left to cross the intersection. The light cycles and I proceed into the intersection when a female patron with her stroller starts yelling from the back as she is running to the front. I’m guessing her English wasn’t very good because all that she could say was excuse me, excuse me. It was quite obvious that she wanted off of the bus, so told I’d let her off on the other side of the intersection. Then I thought about it…she had two children when she came on the bus. So I asked her, “Where are your children ma’am?” Then I saw the frantic look on her face.

I secured the bus on the other side of the lights and hopped off after her and there, at the bus stop, were two very small infant children waiting at the corner where we had just come from. Thankfully a male had noticed the children without their Mom and kept an eye on them until she got back there.

I’m just not sure how she didn’t notice her children were missing? We sat there for at least a minute waiting for the light to change. What if there had been a pedophile on the bus or on the corner? Those children would’ve been gone so fast…and probably forever. The children could’ve tried to cross the road, against the lights. You just never know.

Things happen so fast and unfortunately, some people never think until it’s too late. Here are some tips to prevent this ever happening to you;

  • Never leave your children unattended in public
  • Technology is great, but your children are precious. You can replace a smartphone or tablet, you can’t replace your child’s life.
  • I’m not a fan of strollers coming on the bus, but if you need to use one, don’t take your child out of it while riding.
  • Make sure you physically block your children into their seat to prevent them from wandering off.

Q&A: Selection and Placement

A #freetoaskfriday question came in a while ago…

How are divisions allocated/assigned? Can one transfer between div’s?

I’m probably not the best person to answer this since I don’t work in HR. But to my knowledge, it basically comes down to supply & demand. When I went through the hiring process many moons ago, you were asked your preference of where you would like to work (i.e. buses, subway, streetcar). TTC will try to give you your choice but you might not get your 1st one if there’s no spots open.

Once you’ve been placed initially, I believe you’re locked into that “division” for 1 year. After that, you can submit for a work transfer, say from buses to subway or even from one bus division to another, but it all works off of seniority. So if there’s 8 people wanting to transfer to the same division and you’re on the bottom, there’s a good chance you’ll be waiting for a while before you get it. Once you transfer, you get locked into that division for 2 years before you can submit another transfer.

Thanks for the question!

The Taxi Stop

The other night I almost missed a person waiting at a stop because the shelter is so close to the roadway and she was standing on the far side of it behind the advertising for the shelter. She poked her head out at the last second and I stopped, but she just stood there. This is how the conversation went after I opened the doors to let her on;

Me: Ma’am?

She looks at me

Me: Are you getting on the bus?

Lady: No

Me: Why are you standing at the bus stop if you don’t want the bus?

Lady: I’m trying to get a taxi

Me: Well it might work better for both of us if you weren’t standing in behind a shelter at a bus stop.

She shrugs her shoulders

Me: Why don’t you try standing away from the bus stop, that way you can see the taxis if they come and the buses won’t be slamming on the brakes thinking that you want on the bus?

Lady: No

Me: Thank you for your courtesy and common sense ma’am, have a good night.

These are the people that will be in charge of things in the future. Scary thought

How does a TTC Driver get a Route to Drive?

First of all, I must apologize to @Mlle_Bijou. It would seem that I missed your #freetoaskfriday question and I was terribly busy on the weekend. But you asked…

Simply put, all TTC drivers select their own work based on seniority for their own division. Each route has x number of crews and we simply select the crew that we want based on time frame and days off. For example:

Disclaimer:This example is totally fictitious and does not reflect any real TTC schedule.

Let’s say I work out of Eglinton division and I pick 24 crew Don Mills. That crew comes with Sun/Sat (or weekends) off. So Monday to Friday, I’ll report at Eglinton division at 9:05am, then I would go to Pape Stn to take over my bus at 9:42am. I’ll drive that bus until 1:56pm. where another driver relieves me at Pape Stn.

Then I get break (we called it a split) say for a couple of hours. For my second piece of work, I would go to take over a 34 Eglinton East bus at Eglinton and Lebovic for 4:10pm and drive that bus until 8:03pm finishing at Kennedy Stn. where I would run the bus back into the garage. And I would do that for 6 weeks.

We have many different shifts that we can choose from, that was just and example of a “split shift”. But again, it’s based totally on seniority so the more years you have driving, the better choices you get for work. 🙂

To answer the second half of your question, our schedules (or board periods) can run anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. I regular board period usually runs for either 5 or 6 weeks. But sometimes we get short periods (like at Christmas time) where the board only goes for 2 weeks or when school is out in the summer and we might get a 4 week board period. Holiday sign ups are always separate and we pick work for that individual day (if we are required to work).

I hope that answers your question and thank you for responding to #freetoaskfriday!! If anyone has a question they would like answered, please feel free to ask via twitter,facebook or email and I will respond to the best of my ability!

Care and Control

I just wanted to mention something from last night…

In one 45 minute trip along one road, this is what I noticed;

  • 4 vehicles with their high beams on
  • 3 vehicles without any lights on
  • 3 vehicles ran through red lights
  • 2 pedestrians almost got hit by separate vehicles crossing the road

I wish that people would take driving more seriously. I mean this was only one instance, but I see this on a nightly basis. Driving is a privilege, not a right. On average, I probably see at least 10-20 vehicles driving in mainstream traffic with their high beams on. And if I’m affected by high beams sitting in a bus, imagine what lower vehicles are seeing. And driving without your lights on…well that’s just plain careless. I don’t care if your car’s dashboard illuminates even when your lights are off, you should be paying enough attention to your surroundings that you notice.

PLEASE drive safely and have an ounce of courtesy for your surroundings!

What a Hypocrite!

The other night I pulled up to a platform at a station, only to find that there were about triple the normal amount of people. Not too sure what was going on at the time, but it sent my mood straight south. I loaded up with as many people as safely possible and made my way out of the station.

At the first stop, a few squeezed in and one gentleman was standing outside the doors. He politely asked “Is there room for me?” with a smile on his face. I kind of half looked at him and shrugged my shoulders. He ended up getting on and stood right beside me.

This is when it hit me. Could I be anymore of a hypocrite? Here I am complaining all the time about people’s attitudes towards drivers and preaching that patrons shouldn’t be judging other drivers because of a prior incident and here I am throwing attitude toward this polite guy just because I have a full bus?? I felt like a dirtbag. So I immediately apologized to him and said thank you for being one of the few people to have courtesy enough to ask whether he should get on or wait for the next bus.

We ended up talking for several blocks before he got off the bus. But I certainly got a dose of my own medicine and hopefully it won’t happen again.