Bus Drivers Aren’t Robots

OC Transpo drivers shouldn’t feel pressured to accommodate the scheduling mess created by OC Transpo, according to an internal memo obtained by On the City, From the Burbs.

“We will not stand by and allow our members to be treated like robots. We deserve better than this and the fall booking schedules are unacceptable,” Crabtree, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union 279 representing the drivers, wrote in a memo to drivers.

Crabtree makes it clear the mess wasn’t created by the drivers, and nor should they feel they have to make up for OC Transpo’s problems.
“We need to be united and tackle this scheduling issue head on. If you need to use the facilities and are running late due to insufficient run times and lack of recovery time, please do not hesitate to do so. I would like to clarify. It is not the members of this Local who create scheduling it is your employer. ATU Local 279 will hold the employer accountable and demand a better schedule for our members,” Crabtree writes.

“I would like to inform everyone that ATU Local 279 is addressing the lack of run time and poor scheduling. We are in the process of gathering information and would appreciate input from our members as well.”
Small wonder transit users are upset. Their $2.1 billion investment which was supposed to be a system for the future just isn’t working with any sort of reliability.

Good on Crabtree, he’s absolutely right. This isn’t a problem that can be solved by bus drivers, nor should it be their responsibility. Do they need to do their jobs? Of course. But they shouldn’t be blamed for its problems, not should they be expected to make up for its dismal performance.

The dismal rollout of the much anticipated light rail system has everyone in Ottawa talking.

Recently, an Ottawa transit commissioner asked people frustrated by the system to protest to OC Transpo.

“Send your feedback to OC Transpo!” Sarah Wright-Gilbert told Twitter followers on Friday. 

Seems everyone is equally as frustrated with what’s happening. In her weekly newsletter, Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Carol Anne Meehan weighed in on the woes of the system. Like Crabtree, she didn’t pull any punches.

It should be clear to everyone by now that the Bus System in Ottawa is broken. Riders have lost confidence in the buses that are the backbone of our transportation network. City brass say they are hearing the complaints and are acting. I am a frustrated Councillor trying to find answers and solutions for commuters in the south end. Thursday, I sat down with Pat Scrimgeour, Director of Transit Customer Systems and Planning for OC Transpo. I was armed with a list of your complaints about bussing and LRT. “Frustrated riders giving up and taking their cars.

Of course, that’s the concern isn’t it? What if we’ve paid $2.1 billion for a system that creates bigger traffic woes for the city the we had?. And while I say we’ve paid $2.1 billion, we’ll be paying for it for a long, long time.
And now we’re starting on the Second Phase of a project that’s supposed to work with Phase One. And we’re paying for that too.

The mind boggles.

Mob Mentality Sinks Chiarelli – Who’s Next?

Hey Councillor Shawn Menard, be afraid, be very afraid.

On Wednesday, you and your colleagues decided to punish a fellow councillor without any sort of due process.

Even a killer, found with a smoking gun in his hand standing over his dead victim, gets a fair trial.

But College Coun. Rick Chiarelli has received none of that.

And let’s face it Coun. Menard, it would seem Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson dislikes you only marginally less than he despises Chiarelli.

You could be next. And when the mob mentality sets it, with Watson in charge, there might not be anything you can do about it. So remember how quickly you joined the mob.

In case you missed it, council unanimously rejected giving Chiarelli time off from council, though he had a doctor’s note saying he needed the time off.

This has never happened before. Ever.

Do I believe the dozen plus women who’ve come forward with allegations of inappropriateness of Chiarelli’s alleged actions, sexual or otherwise?

Absolutely. There is no doubt in mind. Like other journalists in the city, I’ve spoken with some of these women, I know them, I like  them – and I not just believe in them, but I never doubted them.

If you haven’t paid any attention, Chiarelli has been accused of making  inappropriate sexual references towards many of his young female employees, everything from suggesting what they should wear, to late night stops together in the city or outside of it.

It’s gross, not a terribly sophisticated word, but it’s appropriate. And it breaks my heart to think of these very young women feeling they had to deal with grossness because they needed a job. 

But if council can censor a colleague who hasn’t been found to be guilty of untying, what’s to stop Watson and his gang of targeting other councillors they don’t like?

So where does city council get off refusing a doctor’s note, which should have excused Chiarelli from attending council for at least three months.
This has never happened before. Never. Ever.

And frankly, I don’t believe for a minute that if Chiarelli was in Watson’s inner circle before this news came out, this just wouldn’t be happening now.

No way, no how. Watson protects his friends. What can you remember about Watson criticizing his buddy Tim Tierney, after Tierney alluded to a food bank donation as an apparent hope his opponent might reconsider running? Doesn’t take too long thinking about that, does it? Osgoode Coun. George Darouze was found guilty of breaching council’s code of conduct. Not only didn’t Watson utter a word, but Darouze is still one of Watson’s deputy mayors.

What does that mean to Chiarelli? Well, before he’s been off for three months in a row, if he wants to keep his job, he’ll have to show up at some point, make an appearance during roll call. Watson knows this experience will be humiliating, and the media will be chasing him for a comment. It doesn’t bother me that Chiarelli might be embarrassed. But it won’t take away Chiarelli’s pay cheque and it won’t change a thing – accept humiliate the College councillor. Is that Watson doing a happy dance?

Former Bay councillor Alex Cullen is the only politician that I know of to call council out.And if your municipal memory isn’t as long as mine, Cullen and Chiarelli are not friends. And they don’t like each other. In fact, Cullen believes that years ago, Chiarelli stabbed him in his political back. So don’t think for a moment that Cullen is just backing up a friend. In fact, Cullen is too principled to back up anyone he didn’t agree with.

“It’s politics pilling over good judgment. In any other employment situation, a doctor’s note would be sufficient to get you any leave doctor recommends. This is a health professional saying someone can’t do their job. That should have been valid enough. Unfortunately, there are politics at play here. And that’s spoiled over to making a judgment on this very valid request. There was no debate and that really bugs me.There was no discussion on why this should be, (council’s) decision over that of a health professional. I suspect what happened is that there was a herd mentality,” Cullen said to On the City, From the Burbs.”This has been very badly handled, ” Cullen added. “And someone has to call out council. If it could happen to one person, it could happen to anyone.”
Exactly.

“It’s the political piling on, Jim has continued to twist the knife. He’s entitled to his opinion, but we know his motives. There’s been no debate, no justification, yet we do have due process.You can’t skip steps. No law has been broke,” Cullen rightly pointed out.”Politics is a blood sort and the herd will turn on someone who’s weak.”

Yes, politics at Ottawa City Hall, it’s ugly