Over the course of the last few weeks, TriMet has been at the center of numerous Media Attacks. From supposed cell-phone photos being taken while driving, a small child getting left behind on a MAX Platform, a man getting killed trying to beat a MAX Train, all of this is leading the public perception all TriMet operators are incompetent and rude. With everything thats going on in the world, the economy, world affairs, do we really need to dwell on more negativity? I know many of you who read my blog, who ever you are, either ride transit frequently or are an operator of a transit vehicle, so this may be obvious to you, to some, its clearly not.
Many of the operators out there do a GREAT job. They are on the ball, slamming Streetcars to halt to avoid hitting the car that just ran the Stop Sign, being quick on the bus breaks to avoid clipping an idiot that turns in front of them, nobody notices those moments, an operator has potentially saved a life at that moment. If your driving a Miata, and a 40ft bus slams into you, there will be injuries, or worse, fatalities. These bus drivers are signed on with our life in their hands, they all take that responsibility seriously! On top of avoiding idiots, operators put up with rude and grouchy customers, because of something that is more than likely not the operators fault, they also put up with crying and screaming children, fare invaders, sometimes fights, people that haven't showered in a month. Transit does not cater to any one social group, people from all walks of life ride a bus or train. They see it all, wether they want to or not. There are well over 1300 operators out there keeping Portlands Public Transit System on the move, and because 6 operators (I can think of right now) have made the news does NOT mean the other 1294 are rude, or break the rules, or discriminate. No matter what you think of the operators, they have a tough job.
I am thinking about putting another request in to TriMet to film from a MAX cab for a day, to catch what MAX operators are seeing, to see what these people are subject to (if anyone can help in this department, let me know). Almost hitting people, no matter how dumb they are, can be hard on a human being, actually killing someone from the cab, can be devastating. I have without a doubt seen a few bad apples out there, operators who think mouthing back to a customer is OK, or acting like they don't care. For the majority of my ride, the operators always greet me, say Hi, or Good Morning, they thank me for showing/paying a fare. They call out stops, give directions to bus transfers, or how to get there, even if that patron is not going to ride their bus. Its all in a days work. I think if I could put something like this up, it would help people better understand, and appreciate what the operators do for 8-10 hours a day, for you, and the public that just simply has places to go.
When you ride a bus and your getting off at your stop, always thank the driver for a good job, after all, you made it to your destination safely, yelling "Thank You" from the back door is OK, believe me, I have never seen an operator ignore a thank you from the back! If you make it to the operator cab of your MAX, look to see if they make eye contact, if so, smile, most return the smile, they appreciate it!