Posts Tagged ‘transit strike’

Dr. OC Transpo-Love. Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bus

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

As always, I say – well put XUP. Another great commentary on that little, twisted organization that we in Bytown like to call: OC Transpo.

And as I said in an earlier post,  this is one almost-former OC Transpo user who has had quite enough and has his name on a few waiting lists for a parking space close to where I work. After 12 years of faithful ridership, I am sick of it all.

One thing that XUP didn’t mention is the arrogant attitude that many (not all) drivers have toward students and anyone who isn’t white.

Students are regarded almost as a necessary evil and are often berated by the driver for holding their pass upside down or something. Last week, a driver called my daughter a “stupid idiot” for trying to use a transfer that was ONE minute past its time stamp! Gimme a break. And the bus was 10 minutes late!

And I’m not saying that all of the drivers are racists but I cannot count how many times I have seen a non-white person be denied entry to a bus for no apparent reason. Some blokes will stand outside the door, arms extended in a pleading fashion, and the driver just ignores him and drives away.

But if that person is a hot white chicky-poo… well, then there isn’t a problem.

Come aboard miss, glad to see you!

But – enough of all this negativity.  In the spirit of all things that we LOVE (I’m trying to be positive cuz I’m a positive kind guy, eh?) about OC Transpo, I humbly submit the following.

Things to love while on that packed aluminum coffin racing 100 km/h down the Transitway

  • I love the way that the drivers will almost intentionally jerk the bus ahead before the passengers have a chance to anchor themselves.  I especially love the way that seniors’ heads are smacked right into the upright posts – makes a cool “boing” sound.
  • I love the way that folks with strollers / wheelchairs or crutches are treated – like the dawgs they are. Shame on them for not being able-bodied. Shame!
  • I love how some buses just do not show up on Fridays… I’m just guessing that the driver has called in “sick” that day and the office  cannot be bothered to replace him. What’s the big deal? It’s not like the riders have anywhere important to go!
  • I love the way that stay behind the yellow line is unevenly interpreted. If the rider is a non-white male, behind the yellow line means a good 6 feet. If the rider is anyone else but a non-white male, they can crowd the front much as they want… especially if they are a hot and white chick wearing short shorts.
  • I love those buses that appear to have not been cleaned since Chretien was PM… though I suppose that is also a reflection of the general slobbishness of many riders… so,
  • I love the general slobbishness of many riders – it seems as though I have been mistaking the floor of the bus as a floor all of these years – while in reality it is the bus’s own little landfill. My bad.
  • I love interior climate control. It is for the driver’s comfort. Not the passenger’s. It is the operator’s union-given right to wear his or her shorts and ATU t-shirt and jack up the heat to “unbearable” in the middle of January if  they so wish! The riders should be thankful for the free sauna!
  • I love the Special Constables. Or are they the Gestapo – 2009 version? Hard to tell the difference. But you have to love all the cool stuff on their utility belts.
  • I love windows that do not stay closed.
  • I love windows that don’t open.
  • I love how the bus schedules are pretty much just a “guide”. Plus or minus 15 minutes is quite acceptable. What’s the hurry?
  • I love how the bus stops are plowed right when you need them in the morning… provided you start work sometime after 11 am.
  • I love those doors that close on you as you are exiting the bus. I really love that sense of panic when you realise the the bus will likely take off from the stop with you trapped half in and half out of the bus. Gives me a rush to think that I can be beheaded by a passing car.
  • And it would of course be my fault.
  • I love the operators who greet your sunny “good afternoon” with a grunt. Kinda like a “unghn”… hard to pronounce. But it’s attractive.
  • I love the operators who provide monosyllabic answers to sincere questions from a rider. As in “If I want to get to Elmvale, am I better to take the 86 or to take the 148 – or should I take the 112 from Billings?” Response: “unghn”. Clear enough to me! Why don’t you learn how to speak Canadian, eh?
  • I love how it seems that, when I’m in a hurry to get to work, 27 express buses in a row from the ‘burbs go by as I’m waiting downtown to transfer before one arrives that is going as far as Tunney’s Pasture. I really, really do love that!
  • And then I love how it’s completely packed.
  • With high school kids juiced up on Red Bull.
  • And my MP3 player is outta juice.
  • And the driver decided that it’s a good time for a layover.
  • I would really like to drop a very, very special note to the fine fellow who wouldn’t let the guy with the busted bike get on the 148 at Alta Vista a few weeks back. The front of the bus was completely empty and the guy – with a pass – said “please, just for a few blocks”… and all he got was a “get of my bus” response from the driver… OC Transpo operators do not believe in cutting anyone a break. Not that they deserve one anyhow.

Sigh.

The fact remains that many transit riders have no other option but to avail themselves of this crappy system. And that is truly sad. Maybe the folks of this fair borough will rise out of their red and white shackles and cry for good service, civil drivers and on-time buses!

But I doubt it.

Finally, if you have ever gleaned anything from my posts on this blogs, you will know that I’m a freakin’ LEFTY.  But even I am saying that maybe, just maybe, we should think about contracting this out to the private sector. If I ever run again for municipal office, that will be one of the planks in my platform. I swear!

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Amalgamated Transit Union votes to retain right to strike…

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

If I had any doubts about giving up on OC Transpo, they have effectively disappeared.

A bid to end crippling strikes or lockouts at OC Transpo was voted down on Friday by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279.

The vote was 62.8 per cent in favour of maintaining the strike/lockout model instead of arbitration.

Jim Haddad, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 279 secretary-treasurer, said he was very disappointed.

“They’re afraid of what the arbitrator will decide. It’s the unknown,” he said.

“Hopefully, the next time the two sides are at the table they will negotiate and get a contract.”

Yeah, right.

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Too late, OC Transpo, way too late…

Friday, September 25th, 2009

So the ATU members are voting to give up their right to strike.

Yippee. Nice thought.

But given:

  • the increasingly cramped buses
  • the increasingly common buses that just, like, don’t show up
  • the increasing congestion downtown and around Hurdman station. And I suspect it’s the same around Baseline, Lincoln Fields, Orléans, etc.
  • the ever increasing fees for ever decreasing levels of service
  • the notion that the transit users of this city will likely be the ones who foot the bill for the Siemens out of court settlement resulting from the Council’s ineptitude
  • the notion that if I need to urgently pick up one of my little ones (i.e., “Hello, Mr. Trashy, this is the school calling, your little one has been throwing up all over the staff room…”), it will take me a minimum of an hour by bus or a $25 cab ride to get from work to the school or daycare.
  • the distinct possibility that even if the ATU does vote away their right to strike, they may just go ahead and do so anyway
  • etc.

For an extra $65/month extra – once I cancel my bus pass – I can park in the underground lot across the street.

After 12 years of riding, you’ve lost me, OCT and ATU. Bye-bye

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Return of the buses

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

The phasing in – according to the Citizen:

No word on dates… but I’m guessing we’ll see the O-Train and the 80 & 90 series routes back as early as late next week. Here’s hopin’!

OC Transpo has a tentative plan for restoring transit service as quickly as possible, but a return to full service will take some time. Mechanics are working to bring all the buses back, but vehicles that haven’t had significant maintenance in more than 50 days can’t all be put on the roads immediately.

This is OC Transpo’s tentative plan for which routes will be back first.

Weekdays

Will operate during their regularly scheduled day, including rush hours:

• O-Train

• All school routes, numbered in the 600s

• Rapid transit routes 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 101, 102 and 106

• Major routes 2, 7, 12, 14, 85, 86 and 118

• Peak employment route 105

• Van route 123

• Early morning routes 824, 825, 830, 835, 837, and 873

Will operate evenings and mid-day only, outside of rush hours:

• Routes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 16, 18, 87, 111, 112, 114, 115, 116 and 117

• Local black routes numbered 121 through 178

Will not operate immediately:

• Green express and rural express routes

• Red rush hour routes other than 102 and 105

Saturday & Sunday

All routes that normally run on weekends will operate at full service.

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The strike is OVER

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Both sides have agreed to binding arbitration with everything on the table!

This is GREAT news – however, I will blog a bit later about how pissed I am that it took this long!

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A letter to Jack Layton

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

I encourage everyone to send a copy of this (or modified if you don’t really admire the guy or the NDP) to : layton.j@parl.gc.ca

Hi Mr. Layton:

As much as I admire much of what you and what your party has done for all Canadians in challenging the current Government on a number of issues, I do hope that you will put partisanship aside and support the Government (yes, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth) in supporting back to work legislation to end the Ottawa transit strike.
This disruption has reached a point where intransigence is prevailing over cooperation and ego over conciliation.
I know it is generally not the policy of the NDP to support this type of  legislation, but it is my hope that you and your party will think about how the public transit users in this community have suffered over the past 50+ days.

Thank you and good luck this year!

John Marshall

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Back to work legislation is possible

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

So, the strike is finally going to be addressed by the House.  Rona Ambrose has stated that she is ready to introduce back-to-work legislation.

The surprising turn of events came after a flurry of activity beginning at Queen’s Park yesterday when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called on the federal government to intervene and end the strike.

“I think it’s gone on for too long,” Mr. McGuinty told reporters.

“It affects our most vulnerable citizens. It’s dramatically affecting our economy at a time when we can’t afford to have these kind of things get in the way. So my advice to the federal government is you’re going to have to come to grips with this.”

Yes, but it is not only the most vulnerable citizens who have been hit by this. My family and I are by no means “vulnerable”, but our stress levels are at all-time highs due to the stoppage. Life can, at times, be stressful and we deal with that. But adding the strike to the usual cocktail of kids, work, et al has truly pushed both Colleen and I toward the brink. Our work hours are out of whack due to the necessity of taking carpools. When the carpools aren’t available (as is the case for the next week for Colleen since her driver has gone on a vacation), then there is the added stress of dropping the kids off AND picking them up as well as fighting the traffic and paying $15/day to park reasonably close to her building.

We are ALL vulnerable… it’s just that some are more so than others.

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2009 Federal Budget

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

The neocons have done the impossible and have managed to largely exclude their normal partisanship and opportunism from this budget.

What does this tell me:

  • Harper is under extreme pressure form the caucus and the party executives to tone it down a little since the ramrod approach clearly isn’t working with the vast majority of Canadians.
  • They accept that their government is a minority and any budget items that would have pushed the limits of their situation would not be accepted by the House. In other words, they are trying to at least give the semblance of governing like a minority government.
  • They are a bit scared about the outcome of another general election should the Grits push them that far.

What should Iggy do?

  • Pump out his chest and say that dang-nab-it, we cannot support this thing in its current form but here are a few minor amendments that would make it more palatable… then, yeah, we’ll grudgingly support it.
  • Build up the profile of his party and himself over the next 16-18 months. This will buy some time to sell the Liberals as a real alternative to the neocons and will also buy some time to build up the Grit treasury.

This budget should pass. The coalition idea, although appealing on many fronts does not have broad base support and, while it would stand for the short term, would harm the Grits for many years to come in the long term.

Plus, the country really does not need another election right now.

Do the right thing Iggy. It really ain’t so bad. And this is one long-time Grit who will support you on it.

In other news… talks broke down between the City and the ATU… yet again.

Bastards.

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Optimism all ’round

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Just saw this comment on the cbc.ca story about the City changing its bargaining position (whatever that may mean).

Go Larry Go – The city is behind you all the way (although you may not know it) and we support you and the city in not letting the OC transpo workers and their union enslave us to their demands. Spring is coming, commuting will be a bit easier, and we can keep them (the union sheep) on KD as long as necessary.

Eh? Spring is coming? In Ottawa? Isn’t it the 25th of January?

ot-081210-picketers-city-hall-top

I think the poster is either the most optimistic soul in the NCR, or he or she has spent way too many hours in the -30 weather sans chapeau.

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Will divine intervention be needed?

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

The, uh, City “Council” is meeting today to discuss wassup with the negotiating gerbils and their minions.

Although I am a confimed and happy atheist, I say to these folks – GO FOR IT! What the hell!

In a note to city council Friday announcing the failure, Mayor Larry O’Brien put the blame squarely on the union.

“The federal mediator has suggested that since the parties continue to be so far apart on their demands there is no benefit in continuing mediated talks at this time,” the mayor wrote.

Meanwhile, the breakdown in talks has the public calling on councillors and calling on God.

About 35 people attended a special prayer service Friday night at St. Joseph’s Parish on Laurier Avenue East in downtown Ottawa.

“We were trying to think of a way we could respond,” said pastoral associate Mary Murphy. “A prayer service seemed the most logical because it is based in faith and we believe faith can make a difference

Garth Gullekson, The Ottawa Citizen

Mayor Larry O'Brien and Councillors Jacques Legendre, Diane Holmes, Peggy Feltmate, Christine Leadman, Peter Hume, Maria McRae, and Clive Doucet in discussion at City Hall during an emergency city council meeting called to discuss the OC Transpo strike on Saturday. Photograph by: Garth Gullekson, The Ottawa Citizen

Above – our elected representatives hard at  burning the Saturday away. My question: where are the rest of them? Still in Whistler?

Oh – and good to see Peter “the disappearing man” Hume in attendance – makes me all tingly to see that he is doing his damnedest to look after we poor saps that used to take the 149 and 148!

Way to go Petey!

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