Good Morning Mr. Watson,
As the nation’s capital, I expect more from Ottawa than I would of any other community. I expect Ottawa to lead the way, demonstrate practical solutions to long standing problems. Yesterday I heard a number of news items discussing the launch of The Confederation Line light rail project. As a tax payer in Ottawa, I take issue with this project. City of Ottawa representatives keep speaking about the level of citizen support for the project. I don’t know anyone in my circle of friends, family or enemies who has expressed any interest in the newly launched light rail tunnel project. It will certainly create jobs for a limited period of time, but even that has not created a stir of support among the people I know. If there really is a great deal of support for this initiative, would you please share the proof with me?
You and I both know Ottawa public transit has plenty of room for improvement. In fact, ask anyone who rides OC Transpo and they will tell you where the money should be spent. We both know the real improvements required have very little to do with infrastructure. I admit, replacing a number of buses and bus operators with a light rail train will indirectly improve the customer service problems which plague OC Transpo. The LRT operator won’t accelerate hard, brake hard, run over curbs, or insult you as you board the vehicle, the way some bus operators do on a regular basis. The cistizens would much rather see the existing Ottawa transit service employees renovated to the point where there are only proven customer service focused people behind the wheel of OC Transpo vehicles. How hard could it be to accomplish this goal? Sure, the City of Ottawa would have to spend some money to clean house, but it would be a lot less expensive and there would be a city filled with happy people and ridership would certainly increase.
I feel the following will illustrate my point very well. Please read the following statement submitted to OC Transpo Customer Service after a tax paying citizen recently rode an OC Transpo bus.
“Hello, I haven’t taken an OC transpobus in several years, but did so tonight so that my pregnant wife didn’t have to pick me up in the slushy weather. I caught the 97 bus going west at 11ish pm. I caught it near Bay Street in front of the Quickie. The bus number was 6513. The last time I was on an OC bus, there was one dispenser in which to put your tickets or cash. Apparently now there are two devices as well as a seperate one to get your transfer. I was not aware of this development. As I entered the bus, i attempted to put my tickets in what would have been the old dispenser. The driver condescendingly said “Its pretty obvious that they don’t go there”. I was embarassed and said “Sorry, i haven’t been on a bus in several years”. After fumbling to see where the tickets actually do go, but with no guidance, i figured it out (all in all taking 10 seconds or less) and looked for my transfer. The driver once again speaks, saying “Its pretty obvious the transfer is over there”. I said “It’s not obvious to me, thanks” and took my transfer. (bear in mind its 11pm and the lights in the bus were not on, so it was also dark). I sat in my seat embarassed and feeling spoken down to.
As I got to Bayshore, I heard the automated message say “last stop”, I thought the bus went to Bells Corners (my fault, no one elses) so I asked if there was a bus to Bells Corners. The bus driver, in the same condescending tone said “NO BUSSES got there this time of night SIR”. So I, in a calm and polite tone said “Just so you know, I haven’t taken a bus in a few years and this is a little indimidating for me….” the bus driver interupted me to say, “If you want to file a complaint, the number is up there (gestures her hand upward). I took out my phone to take a picture of the number and she then quickly added “get off the bus. I am going on my break.” I said “Just one second, i’m taking down the number”. As i stepped off the bus, she said “If you didn’t know where to put the ticket, you could have just asked.” I started to say “I just got on and….” when the driver slammed the door in my face! I couldn’t believe it! I was polite and admitted that I was new to the updates and to receive this treatment was mortifying! I had nowhere to go at Bayshore so I walked around trying to find a cab nearby. Moments later, i saw the same driver walking towards the sheltered area. I said “Why did you slam the door in my face?” and she said “I told you who to call” and she slammed a SECOND door in my face! Once again, i recognize the difficult days that bus drivers have, so I was sure to be polite so as not to appear to be an unruly customer. But I am AGHAST at this treatment! I am certainly rethinking becoming a bus riding customer in the future. I am FURIOUS and feel an apology is forthcoming.”
As I am certain you are aware, customer service on OC Transpo has reached such a low level most people won’t make the effort to formally complain when they receive such treatment. This is a routine experience for many Ottawa public transit users.
I look forward to your response with great interest,
~ Allen Roulston