Sunday, November 15, 2009

TriMet operators getting slammed by Media over Cell-Phone use, Distractions

If its KATU's "Special Report" singling out a driver, The Oregonian posting all the cell phone complaints received in the last year, or a blog entry from Oregonians own Commuting Columnist Joseph Rose thats got you outraged, what about the drivers that follow the rules? It seems more and more of the public are aware of what operators are doing while behind the wheel, or throttle. Camera phones are discreet, and easy to use, you could be caught at any moment, when you least expect it. Why do some drivers behave this way? Well, I don't know. In light of recent tragic incidents involving texting, some still think they can drive and text? I have photo enforced a driver before, talking while driving, because he almost ran a light. Its not safe. Now, TriMet is taking stiff action, threatening termination on the first offense. But my question remains, why now, and not before over 500 complaints were lodged over a year, why the red flag now, and not a year ago when these started pouring in? Maybe its the common complaint of too short of breaks at layovers? I don't think it stops some, I had a 14 driver pull up 14 min late to the end of the line, supposed to depart in 1 min, he went ahead and took a 15 min break, him and the next 14 ran back to back, so what IS the real reason? We will never know, but I do suspect those that used to do this all the time might be a little grumpier. One thing is for sure, I see more White Shirts driving on the phone than anyone, I will be looking for them, now that I know the policy applies to them.

On a related topic, a fellow blogger got called on the carpet for eating while driving, issuing fares while moving, and not checking his mirrors often enough. He has taken drastic actions, modifying his blog, and videos. They have sucked the fun out of blogging for him, for no reason at all. No accident has ever been a result of blogging. After riding around town yesterday, I noticed my 3 bus drivers handing out fare while moving, and checking mirrors only when returning to traffic or changing lanes. So why single out the guy with a blog? Bus drivers everywhere are munching while driving, Streetcar operators (MAX/TriMet personnel) do it ALL THE TIME! Bus drivers are handing out fare WHILE checking mirrors to merge back in traffic. So lets break this down, check your mirrors every 9 seconds, therefore taking your eyes off the road in front of you for a split second, which could cause a red light running incident due to less reaction time, or maybe a rear ending accident. Lets issue fares while sitting there blocking traffic and taking extra time, then we have to wait for the front doors to close, unlike Seattle, TriMet buses can not move until the front doors are closed, making the line late. MAybe some new fare collecting technology could help? Lastly no munching, even at traffic lights, since the drivers break has been cut short by problem number 2. People who don't drive buses, who haven't the slightest clue what its like out there, are calling operators on things like this, because they can. Is this all management has got to worry about? Maybe they should spy on the white shirts that I see sitting around doing nothing, in the new cars parked along the way. Unless they are engaging customers, making riders feeling safer, they are a waste of money and resources. As a rider, I will be keeping a closer eye on the general driver operator population, I am sure I will find that these problems called forth, are common and never addressed, unless management is bored.

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