Jan
29
2011

What is Wrong with This?

Filed under: Politics — admin @ 2:02 am

Toronto bus

As noted in a Toronto Star here, something is wrong with this picture. In a nutshell let me summarize:

  • Transit passengers catch bus drivers texting while driving (in direct violation of the law)
  • Passengers used a cell phone camera to snap a photo
  • Incriminating photos were sent to the transit authority (and likely copied to the newspaper)
  • transit agency tells passengers to stop taking “gotcha” photos of drivers

 The Toronto Transit Commission says that complaints can be made without a photo and that driver punishments have indeed been exercised without such cell phone photos. However near the end of the article reporters Amy Dempsey and Curtis Rush both note that the transit busses do have closed circuit television cameras, but that due to union contracts images obtained through this channel cannot be used for punishment. Clearly the way to deal with the situation would have been to order the drivers to stop using cell phones and anything less than that is unacceptable and should be for the taxpayers of Toronto that prop up the system with a C$429 million annual operating subsidy. This leads me to speculate that the real issue here might be the union contract and the surrounding language that prohibits usage of the on-board video camera for personnel actions. Again this is speculation, but it would not be without reason to believe the city of Toronto feels that it is on better ground to issue reprimands to texting drivers without having the photographic evidence so as to clearly avoid any issues in renegotiating the next union contract. When a citizen sends in a photo of a violation, it places the transit commission in the troublesome middle ground of having public photographic proof of a public safety violation that to effectively and swiftly handle would risk the city violating a term of their union labor contract, but to not deal with it also would place the city in a public relations nightmare. At the end of the day all parties should agree that texting and other use of a cell phone by a bus or train driver is not appropriate, and should be unequivocally barred from the workplace.

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