Bus drivers behaving badly. Oh boy.

After recently witnessing two displays of bad temper from drivers whose actions were, in her opinion, unprofessional and bordered on dangerous, On Track reader Kaitlin Wainwright says she is fed up.

“OC Transpo could improve ridership in a cost-effective manner, starting with the way drivers are trained,” she states in an e-mail.
She’s not alone. OC Transpo’s Livejournal posters weigh in regularly with stories about rude drivers and unprofessional behavior.


Be warned, the comments trail is not for the faint of heart. Riders and drivers alike mix it up on the forum — and the debate is often illuminating.

Personally, I’m wading into this topic with some trepidation. For me, driving a bus is one of those occupations I’m glad someone else is willing to do.

The pressure of dealing with the public, traffic, schedules, pedestrians, cyclists — often all at once — has to be right up there with brain surgery, without the nice sterile environment.

Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s a job where one mistake can kill someone, and knowing that makes me personally cut bus drivers a whole lot of slack in the customer service department.

But the behaviour witnessed by Wainwright, and other riders’ complaints, goes beyond poor manners. Everybody has bad days, but telling a rider to mind her “own damn business” when presented with a reasonable request is so astonishing that it smacks of contempt.

One bad apple, or was the driver in question just poorly trained?

OC Transpo’s new driver recruits receive 32 days of intensive training both in-class and on the road. With such a tight training schedule, I can’t imagine there’s a lot of time to cover customer service in depth.

Even the term, ‘customer service’ doesn’t adequately describe the skill set drivers need to employ on a day-to-day basis in the field.

New drivers, (and some veterans) have to keep their cool with the public at all times, and maintain their professionalism under less than ideal conditions.

That kind of discipline takes education, practice, reinforcement, and more practice.

It’s a worthwhile investment for OC Transpo to make in its service because as far as riders are concerned, drivers are the face of OC Transpo.
Great job. Great view. Comes with a million people.

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