I need to vent on OC Transpo again. They tick me off so much each and every day —- with their high percentage of downright arseholerish drivers and filthy, falling-apart buses; with their outrageous expenses for new garages; and with their overall distain for transit riders (let’s ban people with pets, let’s ban people who want to eat or drink on the bus, let’s ban people with strollers, let’s ban people who don’t know where they’re going and ask us stuff or expect us to call out stops, let’s ban old people who can’t get to their seat fast enough, let’s ban people who can’t squeeze through a jam-packed bus to get to the doors before we slam them shut, let’s ban people who aren’t at their bus stops 10 minutes early in case we decide to show up then, let’s just ban all those nasty, smelly people who can’t drive themselves around). I can’t contain the anger for too much longer without doing myself some internal damage.
But I’m not going to rant about all that.
Nor am I going to go off about the fact that fares are increasing as of March 1st. Again. Nevermind that OC Transpo already had the highest cash fares of any major transit service in Canada. Nevermind that they just raised fares by 7.5% in July and that an adult bus pass will now cost $91.50 per month.
And I’m not even going to rant about the fact that in the midst of this fare increase they had the gall to try to cut services to 47 routes – services ranging from cutting the routes altogether to cutting weekend and/or evening services to cutting a percentage of daytime services. Anyway, that proposal didn’t pass. So there’s no point in talking about it. Or is there?
Because OC Transpo has its own way of dealing with thwarted proposals. They may have to keep their schedules the same on paper, but I guess there’s nothing stopping them from just not sending out any buses for the routes they don’t feel like servicing anymore.
Fiendishly clever, eh? I don’t know how many times – especially on Fridays and weekends – I wait for buses that just don’t show up. When I call to complain they always tell me they “had no operator” for that particular run.
I’ve tried to ask them what that means. Was there no one scheduled for that run? Does a guy just not show up for his shift? Did the driver take an unscheduled break without telling anyone? Did the driver just disappear with the bus — maybe taking his girlfriend off for a little priority seating make-out session? Customer Service (as they ironically refer to the woman with the calm, but snarky voice) never has an answer beyond not having had an operator for whatever run I’m complaining about.
Michelle, my work-cubicle neighbour, has been doing battle with OC Transpo over this very issue for over 2 months now. Because of buses just not showing up, her son missed two important medial appointments in December. These appointments cost her $160 each, which she had to pay because she was not able to give the required 24-hour cancellation notice.
Michelle called OC Transpo both times and was given the usual “no operator” story. She requested a $320 reimbursement for the missed appointments. (Without even factoring in whole issue of her son not getting the medical care he needed because of OC Transpo’s unreliability).
Michelle was told OC Transpo “doesn’t do” reimbursements but she could provide them with times and dates of the no-show buses and they’d make note of it.
In frustration, Michelle contacted CFRA radio and her issue was discussed on the Steve Madley show. A few minutes after the show aired, Michelle got a call from OC Transpo saying they would look into the matter further. What a coincidence.
Time passed. A lot of time. Like, it’s now February. So, last week Michelle emailed CFRA/ Steve Madley again (with a cc to OC Transpo) saying she still has heard nothing back from OC Transpo. Michelle explained that she has left several voicemail messages over the weeks with her contact person at OC Transpo but had had no response. Shortly after the email was sent, OC Transpo called Michelle. What a coincidence, again. They told her that her son missing his appointments was not their responsibility because (quote):
THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO TRAVEL
Are you, like me, laughing so hard you’re crying? OC Transpo is basically telling Michelle it’s her own stupid fault for depending on the bus to get around.
Isn’t this a great slogan for a public transit system? Seriously, they should put it on the side of their buses in big letters: OC Transpo: There are other ways to travel.
And while they’re at it, they could add this to their website: Our mission is to actively encourage the use of private vehicles.
Anyway, after some further discussion, OC Transpo grudgingly offered Michelle a one-month free bus pass. Now, probably after another fare hike or two, a one-month bus pass will be worth the $320 and whatever consequences Michelle’s son has suffered because of the missed appointments, but for now she told them to stick their one-month free bus pass. She’s holding out for some sincere restitution.
PS: Michelle knows I am blogging about this and wholeheartedly supports me sharing her story.