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July 8, 2011

TTC Driver + Supervisor scuffles with riders

CANADA - The reputation of the Toronto Transit Commission's buses, street cars and subways' drivers is just going from bad to worse.

It all started when a crowded streetcar at Bathurst station was over 40 minutes late during rush hour on Monday.

A middle-aged woman in her 40s got on the street car. “Why are you late?” she recalls asking the operator. “We’ve been waiting for almost 40 minutes now.”

“I don’t like your attitude and you are not getting into my car,” she remembers the operator saying, and then left the streetcar for a short break.

The 40-something woman got on the street car anyway. When he returned 5 minutes later, he spotted her and yelled at her to “get out of his car”.

“I said no, I have a subway pass and paid my fare.”

The driver told her to get off and take the next one, but the woman refused to budge.

It was a regular Rosa Parks situation. Here was a calm middle aged woman. She had asked a question and the driver had behaved rudely to her. (Begging the question, if she had been a young man or an old man would he have treated her differently?)

“I wasn’t backing down,” the woman said. And she wasn't alone, other passengers were equally annoyed at the driver.

Abie Derdak, another passenger on the streetcar, overheard the conversation and says the woman was behaving calmly.

“The driver was so angry and out of his mind,” says Julio Erhart, who was sitting at the front.

Other passengers spoke up, telling the operator everyone has a right to free speech and that there is nothing wrong with asking why someone was late.

The operator then called his supervisor, following TTC protocol, claiming he felt threatened.

One woman, Shari, started filming the incident. When the TTC supervisor arrived he said: “We can all sit here forever, or you can come out, let the streetcar go and then I’ll get you on another streetcar.”

The middle-aged woman refused.

Nearby passengers argued back with the supervisor, pointing out that the driver was clearly in the wrong and basically had a temper tantrum. The supervisor noticed Shari’s camera, marched over to her and grabbed the camera away from her.

Note: It isn’t illegal to take pictures or record video on TTC property as long as it is not for commercial purposes.

According to the TTC an elderly passenger then grabbed the supervisor from behind in a bearhug, after which a scuffle broke out.

“I didn’t see a bearhug,” the woman said. “The driver grabbed the camera and then another man grabbed his arm and took it away.” That is when the scuffle really began when the supervisor lost his temper.

Many of the passengers refused to disembark, and TTC officials refused to move the streetcar, creating a queue of other streetcars behind it. The 50+ passengers refused to get off the street car and waited another 30 minutes for the police to arrive.

The TTC's reputation has been in shambles since TTC employees were caught sleeping on the job about 18 months ago and other similar incidents which display a lack of proper training and behavioral problems on the part of TTC staff.

Drivers do have the right to refuse service, but passengers who haven't done anything wrong are fully entitled to stand up (or sit down in this case) for their rights.

Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, says TTC workers can snap and lose their temper after a long day.

In April 2010 a TTC bus driver, Bereket Hagos, was charged with assault after attacking and trying to choke a passenger. The attack was recorded on video from the bus' onboard camera. The driver even taunted the passenger, saying "Hit me, hit me!"

In January 2011 Toronto police charged a 59-year-old TTC employee with assault. The off-duty TTC employee was on a bus in Scarborough when he attacked a father and his son, trying to push them further back on the bus. When the father complained to the bus driver on duty, the driver refused to call it in so the father called police on a cellphone. Frederick Tulk, 59, later turned himself into police and was charged.

5 comments:

  1. These TTC employees with bad tempers need to be weeded out and quietly fired. You can't be working with the public if you can't control your temper.

    Back when I was teaching for the Catholic School Board in Toronto there was an incident where one of the teachers attacked a student and uttered death threats. The school board tried to cover it up, but eventually they fired the teacher.

    The same principle applies here. The TTC is going to be on damage control for years to come as their reputation is further sullied by incompetent or badly trained employees. Their first order of business should be to make it clear that violent TTC staff will not be tolerated and result in an instantaneous suspension pending an investigation, and even they do go back to work they should be required to undergo training to improve their ability to control their temper to prevent any repeat

    ReplyDelete
  2. If they have a temper they shouldn't even be hired in the first place. They should have picked a career with less stress.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Even the supervisor should be fired for this one. He had no business trying to grab that woman's camera.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Honestly, I don't think they have much choice in careers... and this is true of bus drivers EVERYWHERE! Bus drivers just aren't that smart academically and don't have many options on the table. They only picked that job because its well paid and you don't need much of an education.

    However I agree, any driver with a violent temper should be fired. Same goes with that supervisor who grabbed the woman's camera. That was just a blatant attempt on his part to prevent the media from getting a hold of the video.

    And note that the scuffle took place after the camera was grabbed. Its like the supervisor WANTED a fight and was looking to cover it up. Stupid stupid stupid!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I want to state clearly that I believe that the driver and the supervisor were absolutely out of line, especially when the supervisor grabbed someone's arm. However, am I the only one who thinks that the question "Why are you so late?" when it's rush hour traffic is, well, kind of stupid? The driver wasn't late on purpose, he had no ability to control the traffic around him, right? So, in the end, wasn't the lady in a way, poking someone in the eyeball and expecting them not to get upset?

    ReplyDelete

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