Ottawa

Bus union defends driver who deserted riders

The union for OC Transpo bus drivers says the driver who abandoned his bus did the right thing after a rider confronted him.
The tension between riders, drivers and OC Transpo management is rising. 2:39

The union for OC Transpo bus drivers says the driver who abandoned his bus did the right thing after a rider confronted him.

OC Transpo is investigating a reported incident where the No. 5 bus was 40 minutes late, according to passenger Henry McCambridge.

The elderly man complained to the driver about the tardiness but the driver said he would not be talking to McCambridge.

McCambridge then started talking to the other passengers and told them to complain to their local councillor.

He said the driver then got out of the bus while it was still running, telling the passengers to get on the next bus. About five minutes later the passengers realized the driver was not coming back, McCambridge said.

OC Transpo drivers told to avoid confrontation at all costs

Garry Queale, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union 279, said the driver was in the right by playing it safe when there could be confrontation.

ATU 279 President Garry Queale is defending an OC Transpo bus driver for the second time this week, this time for leaving his bus to avoid confrontation. (CBC)

A memo will be sent out Friday to remind all drivers about the bylaws, said Queale, which includes the proper response to angry passengers.

"Call your controller, pull over the bus, put the four-ways on," Queale said, describing the protocol, "We just want the operators to follow the proper procedures and avoid confrontation and hopefully we can have management back our operators up as we as a union do."

Queale said drivers have had to deal with customers' frustration resulting from the route optimization plan where some routes have been cancelled and others substantially changed.

It has been a tough few weeks for OC Transpo. Earlier this week, another driver was fired for yelling and swearing at a passenger.