Tuesday, March 14, 2017

In defense of the new Trimet policy regarding bus drivers and fares

I feel compelled to write this defense of the new Tri-Met policy prohibiting operators from denying boarding to fare evading riders. 
 First of all  I want to say that I am extremely surprised at how much resistance this is getting from Tri-Met operators. 
Trimet basically just made your job substantially easier and people are actually complaining about this change.

The main complaint I hear is "why should anybody have to pay"

To which I respond why should anybody have to pay indeed. 
And so what if they don't pay? 
What does that have to do with me?
  Does it affect my salary? 
Does it affect my working conditions?
 "If people  value the service then they should have no problem with paying."
 All of these questions are questions of ethics and morality and are not part of the bus drivers job description. 

I witness numerous comments such as "they are smoking cigarettes but don't have money to pay the fare". 
These sorts of attitudes are extremely disturbing and point to the fact that there are some serious cultural attitudinal problems within Trimet culture.
 The fact that many bus drivers find themselves morally superior and think they are in some position to make judgements about the people using the transit system points to a severe, even reckless deficiency in recruiting and training procedures.

It's a fact that 90% of operator assaults involve the enforcement of fares.  
Many operators Poo-poo this as not relevant however they are wrong, 100% wrong. 
I point to the fact that I know more than a few 20 or 30 year veterans who have never been threatened while on the job.
 I have combined experience of over 20 years driving transit and was never once threatened.
What are we doing that is so much different?
 Well one thing we are doing is not stressing over the fares.

To quote my friend Dan Christensen: "The foundation of self-defense for a bus driver is how you treat riders".
 Truer words were never spoken.

Trimet, for once, did the right thing with this new policy, its a concrete step to reduce operator assaults.



Deke N Blue said...

When the agency decides that your retirement benefits are too expensive when people stop paying fares, you might feel the effects.

Sure, I agree that most assaults happen after a fare dispute. But not all of them. Not charging any fares at all might be a financial nightmare for an agency that already whines about money problems. And, the federal cash network might slow down to a trickle with the orange freak in the WH.

I think ops should not worry about fares... you got that right, and I don't. But there has to be a way. Nothing good is ever easy, or cheap.

Thanks for doing what you do Al.

Al M said...

This post was made as a response to your post 'deek'

But you knew that I'm sure

Deke N Blue said...

I know. It's good that we can respectfully disagree. Peace brother.

Al M said...

And the fares have zero to do with our retirement.

Chris Day said...

Al you ask:
What does that have to do with me?
Does it affect my salary?
Does it affect my working conditions?

Before I answer that I want to point out something about the SOP that is being referenced. SOP B502 requires that Operators
1. Avoid confrontations and be fare informers.
OK so typically when you inform someone you tend to risk confrontation.
2. Operators should attempt to inspect the fare of boarding passengers.
OK requesting to see fare puts an operator at risk of confrontation.
4. Your safety and the safety of your passengers are most important. Respectfully inform passengers of TriMet’s fare policy.
AGAIN why require the operator to do such a thing when the information is already posted all over the bus?

I can go on the list of what this SOP is requiring operators to do. If a manager wants to take action on an operator and the operator is not “informing” passengers of the fare policy that manager can discipline the operator for failing to follow SOP.

So my question to you is if TriMet is putting it out there that operators are not able to deny boarding for failure to pay fare then why still require the operator to have anything to do with fare?

You asked three questions in your post and here is my responses. Beings that the SOP still requires the operator to be involved with fares it has a strong effect on that operator. The operator can be assaulted just for “informing” TriMet’s fare policy. The operator can be suspended or terminated for not following SOP and that would affect the operator’s salary. With the public being aware of operators not able to deny boarding for fare it will affect the operators working conditions if the operator attempts to follow the SOP.

I do not have an issue with the SOP not allowing operators to deny boarding for lack of fare I have an issue with operators being required to participate in fares.

Chris Day said...

You do have to admit that SOPs are requirements that TriMet places on it's employees so advising operators to not make any statement about fares is advising operators to not follow SOP's.

You have said to me many times "who cares what the SOP says" and that is where we differ because I wish I can ignore the SOP yet I know that doing so can put me at risk of discipline.

Al M said...

All I can say Chris is what I always said. Screw the SOP. The question is how do I survive this job. One way to improve your chances of survival is too not sweat the fares

Al M said...

Also I don't see what else Trimet can do. This is a concrete action that should be statistically connected to reducing confrontations. I commend them for doing this

Chris Day said...

Removing the requirement to check fares would reduce confrontations.

rainmagix said...

I wish we could make everything perfect all at once. Compare this to the way the SOP was written before it is far less confrontational. Far from perfect, it is a step.