I am responding to the letter “Too many free bus rides,” The Leader, Aug. 25.
I am a retired bus driver of 24 years, and I feel a need to clear this up.
We are told from day one in training, that we are to inform not enforce the fares. We are just to report the problem and security will take care of it.
I used to confront passengers about their fares. All it did was delay the bus, and inconvenience the paying passengers, who have now missed their connections.
If a fare evader complains, as they sometimes do, the company will not back the driver.
So Mr. Sahib, if you or anyone else has a problem with fare evaders take it up with the company not the drivers.
The drivers are just as fed up with these fare evaders.
M. Vinthers , Surrey
Bus drivers concerned about more than fares
Most people are very sincere who have a monthly pass. Sometimes they forget it. Should I make them pay, probably, but I’m not going to get bent out of shape about it.
There are people that scam the system and pat themselves on the back. To me, these people have thrown away their dignity and self respect.
I am, however, impressed at how observant you are. On some occasions you see transit drivers letting people on for free. Wow!
My question is, do you ever see a transit driver help an elderly person into his/her seat or up out of his/her seat?
Do you ever see a transit driver wait before leaving the stop, until someone gives up a seat for an elderly or someone with difficulties, even though the driver is running late and behind schedule?
Have you ever witnessed someone falling outside at a bus stop and seen the driver pull over and help the person and wait until an ambulance had come? And yet some passengers, knowing full well what has happened, have the nerve to ask the driver if the bus is going to be delayed.
Have you ever seen a transit driver ask someone if he can see their pass, only to get spat on?
Have you ever seen a transit driver get to the end of their line to find an intoxicated person sleeping in their bus? Then get help waking him up and getting him out into the fresh air? Then check the seat/floor where he was sitting/sleeping and found and returned their wallet or cell phone?
Have you ever seen a transit driver greet everyone with a smile, hello and a thank you?
If not, then I suspect you have never ridden on my bus – or maybe you have. However, all you see are the people who don’t pay.
Transit drivers’ jobs are to get passengers from point A to B safely. I believe all the transit drivers you had did just that. Otherwise, I’m sure you would take issue with that, instead of blithering on about fares.
Buses can’t run on time if drivers don’t focus on the road
I would like to challenge the picture that letter writer Mohammed Sahib is painting of bus drivers.
My husband is a bus driver and enjoys his job. He enjoys talking to people and giving directions to those who ask. I know, however, that there are dangers inherent to that job.
I do not speak for the company, but I know that drivers have been trained not to challenge passengers who get on without fare. Fare evasion is one of the largest catalysts for assault on a driver. Mr. Sahib seems to think that part of the driver’s job is to shake the fare out of the passengers. This is not my understanding of the training that drivers go through.
As for some of the assertions that Mr. Sahib is making, these can be explained by a simple understanding of the job. If a driver says, “whatever, I don’t care,” to a passenger who doesn’t want to pay, I don’t think the driver is showing apathy towards the job but a canny response using basic psychology. I ask you, which response would raise the ire of someone who already doesn’t expect to pay: a disapproving look and an assertion about fares paying their salaries; or a shrugged off response that says, “don’t take your beef out on me, man?”
Anyone with a dose of street smarts will choose the latter – I can’t think of anyone I know who relishes getting beaten up over a couple of bucks (that are not even theirs).
As for some of the other points Mr. Sahib raises, he should think of the tough scheduling drivers face and the demands on them to be on time.
Does he realize that often a driver may have a schedule that only allows a few minutes to grab a coffee, or use the bathroom?
Drivers don’t have the schedule of an office worker, who can get their two 15 minute coffee breaks and their hour for lunch.
I think if Mr. Sahib was always late (as he says he takes the bus every day) because his driver was hassling the customers about their fare or closing the bus to take his break instead of allowing passengers on to get out of the weather, he would have many more harsh things to say about the state of our transit.
I say to Mr. Sahib, be thankful you have dedicated drivers willing to put up with all sorts of people, and keep the buses running on time, and drive you safely through terrible traffic, and stop questioning whether they earn their salaries or not. Let me assure you, they do.