Nassau County's Transit System is being Privatized

Nassau County's Transit System is presently operated MTA Long Island Bus. On January 1st, the transit system is being privatized and operated by Veolia.

There is a lot of uproar by transit customers and bus operators over privatization. - it's a ZIP file containing 4 videos in .FLV format (note that you may have wait 45 seconds before a link is available for download).

A Kudos and a funny picture

Kudos: Kudos to the driver of the #95 to Place d'Orleans yesterday at just after 1pm. My cellphone fell out of my purse, and was left in the bus by accident. I called it, when I realized it was MIA and the driver, who was on his SEVEN MINUTE break before starting his next run came into the mall and found me to deliver it. Sir, I forgot your driver # (which I had asked for), but if you read this - THANK YOU. You quite seriously saved my skin, since I don't get a replacement on the phone if I lose it. Merci beaucoup!

Now, for a funny picture. Totally legit, I took it with my Blackberry. I'm not reporting it to OC Transpo directly though, because this is so much more amusing that they either didn't realize the mistake or simply didn't care.

Charge Laid In Internet Bus Threat

A 22-year-old Ottawa man is charged with uttering threats after a Facebook post targeted OC Transpo.

Ottawa police said Monday no specific person was directly targeted in the online social networking post written Nov. 21, which was against the transit organization as a whole. A concerned citizen had contacted police.

“People have to make a conscious and responsible choice before they say something,” said police spokesman Const. Henri Lanctot. “They’re subject to consequences.”

Police wouldn’t reveal the alleged threat, although reports said it was a bomb threat.

Writing a threat on the Internet is the same as verbally threatening someone, said police, who warn people that online threats are taken seriously. While police more commonly deal with verbal threats, it’s not uncommon for officers to turn to online social media during investigations.

Threats must have to meet a certain criteria to be considered criminal, said police, which means they tend to be fairly specific. Broad statements such as “watch your back” would likely not meet that threshold, said police.

City officials said OC Transpo wouldn’t comment since the incident is under investigation.

Amalgamated Transit Union 279 president Garry Queale, who represents OC Transpo bus drivers, also declined to comment Monday night.

James Perry is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 21to face charges of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.

In light of everything...

All this week whenever I got on a bus, I was greeted by a driver who looked very unhappy and sometimes the driver seemed wary of any questions people might ask them. One driver yesterday definitely was stinging from all the bad news surrounding OC Transpo. I was standing at the front of the bus and throughout the trip I wanted to talk to him, to let him know that there are good passengers out there and that we don't all think the drivers are like what the Sun and its nasty commenters say. At the end of my trip, I finally got the courage and asked how his day was. He said he was ok, asked how I was. I said "I just want you to know that we don't all think poorly of you drivers." He said (and it broke my heart a little) "Sure feels like it lately." I let him know that it's not right and that I appreciate what the drivers do. He thanked me for my support and I departed. I hope that it gave him some hope.

Before I get into this, I want to say that I am not a driver, am not married to or related to any either. I write this as a passenger outright.

To the drivers who read this:

I really hope that you guys and gals aren't reading the comments in the articles in the media surrounding the rough week we've had with one another in general as passengers and drivers. A large amount of the people who are angry are those who are clearly having a very hard time letting go of their anger from the strike a few years ago. They are out for blood and have to realize that forgiveness is what will help them, not revenge. I always smile and say hello to the driver when I get on, hoping that they have a pleasant day. I know what it's like to work in customer service, but never to the extent that you do. You pick up people from all over the city, all walks of life. Some people have major problems in their lives and they don't know how to address their issues or release their anger, so they take it out on someone who can't fight back. That has got to be hard. You say hello to people who sneer back. You get shat on whenever the bus is late when traffic was out of your control. I could never put up with the crap you folks deal with. And if I were a driver and that Taronno guy would have been messing with me while I was trying to work I probably would have kicked him right off the bus in the middle of the Queensway.

I want to thank you for all your work, for getting me to and from work every day in every kind of weather and getting me there safely. I don't care if you sing or recite dirty limericks while driving as long as you watch the road. One day my kids will be bussing it downtown so they can rebel against living in Barrhaven and I hope that the drivers of those buses will have the same integrity and willingness to help that you folks have demonstrated towards me. Please keep your chins up and remember that people out there do appreciate what you do and respect you immensely for it.

At least some media are putting the two sides of the story unlike the Sun

Kelly Egan: Fired bus driver speaks out

Devastated by the loss of his career, he says

By KELLY EGAN, The Ottawa Citizen November 18, 2011 9:36 AM

OTTAWA — The OC Transpo driver who was fired for a tirade against a passenger has provided us his side of the story.

He is devastated at the turn of events — “the insanity” he calls it — the loss of his career, income, peace of mind, only three years short of retirement. “I’m just kind of numb, you know?” He could barely get the story out without tears.

“(The passenger) just wouldn’t leave me alone,” he said this week, in describing a set of circumstances — that night, and in his life — that would push just about anyone to the breaking point.

But first, a catalogue of the pressure the man was facing.

He often works from 7:30 p.m. until 5:30 a.m., a shift he started roughly 20 years ago when his wife gave birth to triplets.

In April this year, though they were divorced, she died at the age of 51, a shattering event for the children and family. In August 2010, his mother died at the age of 81, leaving his father alone.

This February, his father, now age 83, had open-heart surgery. So the bus driver moved into his father’s house to be a caregiver during the day, leaving his grown children in the apartment that he pays for, meals included, while he worries about their well-being; their mother now dead.

“The reason for the shift is for the hours, and I want to be there at the house when my Dad needs me. My whole schedule, since my kids were born, has been geared to being there for them.”

So do these actions speak of a good man, not a raving nut who does not understand public service.

(He spoke on condition of anonymity, fearful the release of his name will “make things horrible.”)

The terms for that explosive episode, at 2 a.m. on Nov. 3, were really set two days before.

It was Halloween. He was driving the No. 12 in the east end. It was about 8 p.m. A passenger, about 13 years old, boarded the bus and asked him to alert him to the Montreal and Shefford roads stop, only about six stops ahead.

The driver said okay, but told him to watch the electronic call-out system, which alerts passengers to every stop. No said the kid, yammering on his cellphone, you tell me when we get there.

“He keeps asking me, every stop, ‘is this it? Is this it?’”

When they finally arrive, the driver tells him. The youth was met by a friend on the sidewalk. Before leaping off, he spat in the driver’s face, took off, nearly running over a mom with a stroller.

The driver stopped the bus, called his supervisor. There was a discussion about whether he should go to the hospital. He declined, but an unusual thing happened. As though all of the stresses in his life surged at this moment, he started to crack. He couldn’t believe how upset he was.

“Christ man, I even said (to the supervisor) I didn’t even cry when my mom died.” But the spit in the face seem to break a dam.

He took the rest of the night off. The next day, exhausted because he hadn’t slept, he said he called his supervisor and it was agreed he would take Tuesday night off as a sick day, one of only four he had taken all year.

Wednesday, he was back behind the wheel, on the No. 96.

It was a good shift, he reports. Then a passenger later identified as Matthew Taronno, 20, an Algonquin College student, boarded the bus at Lincoln Fields.

The two were acquainted with each other.

About three weeks before, said the driver, the young man got on the bus and started acting up, talking loudly, bothering other passengers. “I told him, listen man, if you don’t sit down and be quiet, you’re not going to be welcome on the bus anymore.

“He sat down, was quiet, got to where he was going. Beautiful.”

But not this night.

The trip from Lincoln Fields to Eagleson park-and-ride is only 12 minutes, he said. The whole time, he said Taronno was being disruptive. Either sitting or walking up and down the aisle, he was speaking loudly into a cellphone, as though it were a microphone.

“At Pinecrest, he got behind a passenger and is yelling into his phone and leaning toward them, trying to be aggressive.”

At Bayshore, he said Taronno comes to the front of the bus again, shouting out nonsense, ringing the bell when no one was getting off.

“I said ‘C’mon man, what are you doing?’”

He thought about calling security but knew there was only another stop or two to go before the young man got off.

“Every time I roll the bus, he gets up again. Ah man,” he said, releasing a big sigh, “It was just too much.”

So he gave the kid a blast, much of it caught on YouTube. It was never his intention to physically harm the passenger, he said, despite his verbal threat.

“I just lost it. I figured if I kept talking, he wouldn’t say anything else.”

This much was true.

“It was a 12-minute trip that started with ‘Please have a seat’ and ended with the video.”

Once the story hit the papers and Mayor Jim Watson got involved, the driver sensed things had escalated to another level.

The driver, through his union, is grieving the dismissal. For now, he needs to recover well enough to start looking for another job.

Driving a bus, he said, was a “fabulous” job for 25 years but he was looking forward to retiring in 2015. Now the future is shaky.

And so it is left to wonder about OC Transpo, their “investigation,” and their deftness at labour relations. After an admitted, embarrassing mistake, they took a loyal employee, obviously under stress, and threw him under the bus, leaving an entire family in disarray.

It is one thing to be incompetent. But cold-hearted too?

To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-726-5896, or email
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Mercier is the BEST GM OC Transpo has ever had!?

According to Sue Sherring of the Ottawa Poop he is.

Mercier might indeed be the best general manager OC Transpo has ever had.

Where does she come up with these ideas? Like really.

I have included a quick rapid poll so everyone here can show her she is wrong. I give Sue Sherring one thing though, she sure is great at paraphrasing and quoting leaked material.

Poll #1795995 Is Mercier the best GM OC has ever had? Oui ou Non?

Is Mercier the best GM OC has ever had? Oui ou Non?

YES #1

Bus Driver Abandons Bus On Bridge

“Get another bus.” 

That apparently is what yet one more frustrated bus driver said as he allegedly stormed off the bus he was driving, leaving more than a dozen passengers on the idling vehicle marooned  on the Mackenzie St. Bridge.

One more frustrated bus driver, one more apology from OC Transpo.

“Customer service is always a priority for OC Transpo, and we apologize to all customers who were on the bus when this incident happened. We appreciate when customers contact us directly on their service experience and OC Customer Service will communicate with the customer to better respond to their needs.

“As always, we are monitoring the service on all our bus routes and we encourage our customers to provide us feedback to assist in this process.

OC Transpo is investigating and appropriate action will be taken based on the findings. 

OC Transpo (Customer Relations) contacted the customer regarding his experience,” read a standard message from OC Transpo.

Yup, that’s right, just left the bus right there — along with about a dozen or so passengers who no doubt were wondering what the heck was going on.

OC Transpo — through the Sun — has apologized to the passengers on the bus at the time.

Seems this is getting to be old hat to the commission.

It was Henry McCambridge who, having waited for 40 minutes for the No. 5, boarded bus number 5060 earlier this week — and attempted to engage the driver about problems with the route.

“When I boarded the bus, I asked the driver how late was he on his schedule. The driver replied, ‘I don’t have to tell you anything.’ I explained to the driver that I know it’s probably not his fault for being late and that I needed information to pass onto my city councillor and OC so they can rectify this problem.  The driver then ordered me off the bus.

“I turned around facing the passengers and told them that the No. 5 route has scheduling problems and for them to take five minutes from their time to complain about the service, that it’s not all the driver’s fault.”

“It was then that the bus driver put on his coat and left the bus.” 

He actually abandoned the bus right there on the Mackenzie Bridge, the bus still running and not notifying the passengers, except to say as he left, ‘Get another bus’.” 

McCambridge is the president of his building’s Senior Tenant Association — and in that role has been monitoring bus route problems with Route No. 5.

A supervisor showed up about 10 minutes later, according to McCambridge.

“I asked the supervisor what is being done and he told me the driver has been relieved of his duties and is returning the bus to the garage and that the driver will be addressed by the management,” he said.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury, McCambridge’s councillor, said he really doesn’t know what to think.

“What’s going on with OC? I read your column (today) and you’re right, no one wins,” he said, adding OC Transpo will reimburse McCambridge with two bus tickets, something he asked for following this incident.

“We want a good service. I take the bus everyday and I feel a tension, the drivers don’t want to talk to people, there’s no interaction,” he said.

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, who chairs the OC Transpo Commission, said despite the series of negative stories of late, customer remains their number one concern.

“We have 400,000 passenger rides each day, and we hear lots of good stories about our service,” she said.

But with that number of passengers, she said they also receive complaints — all of which are investigated by OC Transpo.

Now the singing driver is being silenced by Mercier and co.

I just hate it when every happens at the same time - which means like 3 or 4 posts within a week. Though the page needed some activity since nothing was posted for a couple of weeks prior to the Kanata incident. But I'm sure you've heard on CBC about the singing driver being silenced by Mercier and his acolytes and supported by Deans who had a very tough year as the head of the Transit Commission and also Jimmy.

I guess OC Transpo management doesn't know . But shame on Alain, Diane and Jimmy for this display as well as the 12 people out of thousands of the driver's passengers who've complained.

Jimmy, Diane and Alain should worry instead about the overcrowded buses all over the city not just on the 95s and 96s. And they should worry about the negative impacts of the stupid cuts made back in September rather then a non-issue such as this story.

Facebook already has a page up in support of Yves