My Dear OC Transpo

After work today, while I was waiting among the sheer madness that is Hurdman Station, I reflected on how delighted you must be that your Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 279 voted in favour of maintaining their right to strike and against agreeing to send all future unresolved contract negotiations directly to third-party arbitration. Almost two-thirds of union members (62.3 per cent) who voted, opted to maintain the current arrangement — even though the last (long, long) strike ended up with you having to go to arbitration anyway.

I understand your need to keep this threat in your back pocket. I understand because I had a long time to reflect on your decision, as people raced back and forth looking for their buses, because the bus I needed to take to get home didn’t show up — not an unusual occurrence.

I see what you people have to put up with every day. I see dozens and dozens of buses darting in an out of the few designated stop areas. Would-be passengers don’t have a clue where exactly their particular bus is going to land, so they dart about, racing from one end of the station to the other until they spot their bus. Often, the potential rider doesn’t make it before you decide to pull the bus away. Idiot passengers run next to the bus and wave and yell. Like that’s going to convince you to stop and let them on. You shrug and drive on. Passengers are so stupid, aren’t they?

By my reckoning, somewhere around 25% of potential riders never manage to get on the bus – either because you don’t feel like stopping at the designated area; or because you decide to leave well ahead of schedule (you have a life too, right?) or because you just don’t feel like showing up at all.

You do everything in your power to discourage transit users and yet some of us just won’t give up. You hiked our fares by 15% right after going on strike for 52 days, making us walk to work in the middle of winter. (Good one!) And still some sad-sack people insist on trying to riding the bus.

Don’t they understand that they, the passengers are the root cause of all of your problems?  You’ve explained, very carefully that it’s because of us always sneaking on buses without paying that you have that giant deficit.

On top of that, we insist on having stops called out to us, so now you have to install 17 million dollars worth of announcing equipment. Then we whine about bus rides taking too long, so now there’s a never-ending kerfuffle about light rail and tunnels and other silliness.

You even hired on “special constables” to scare us off. You decked them out in Gestapo uniforms and armed them with handcuffs, batons and pepper spray and had them travel in packs wherever they go. And yet, the passengers keep coming like so many locusts in a wheat field.

Having your drivers pretend it’s their first time driving anything bigger than a Vespa, does keep us at the edge of our seats, but it’s still not enough to convince us to stop pestering you people for rides.

Well, I want to assure you that I, for one, get it. I feel your pain. I understand where you’re coming from and I want to help. So, I’m forming the Amalgamated Union of OC Transpo Passengers. And we’re going to make it our first priority to find all these public transportation junkies alternate ways of getting around. You have my word.

PS: I took me from 3:30 until 4:40 to finally get home tonight. By car it would have been a 10 minute drive. And I would walk it except there just isn’t a walkable road from here to there, believe it or not. (Yay, urban sprawl)