Monday, January 31, 2011

The TTC: The Not-So-Safe Way

I tweeted this morning:

Rosie: "you're twice as likely to be murdered in Toronto as hurtled into the hereafter by a bus or streetcar" http://bit.ly/e79zlf

Horrifying what Rosie DiManno of The Toronto Star wrote but true so far this year. I remember when growing up that streetcars would fly along the tracks like kamikaze pilots, and I would often feel, while hanging on desperately to the nearest pole, that bus drivers loved to notch on their belts the numbers of passengers they flung to the floor while zipping round corners. Yet somehow passengers got away alive.

But things seem to have changed. In all the talk of customer service, of snoozing while working, there hasn't been much yak about driver safety, about whether drivers are remembering their safety lessons, about whether our TTC drivers have become just like car drivers: oblivious, selfish, dangerous.

Most car accidents are not "accidents." They're the predictable result of inattention, of feeling one's priorities are more important than anyone else's, of feeling safety and speed rules don't apply.

And now it seems TTC drivers are buying into that attitude.

Police on bikes chased the streetcar in a futile attempt to save the man underneath. Yet it took blocks for the driver to stop. Um, don't they learn to check their side mirrors, both sides? If he had, he must've seen the desperate police. That was a long, long stretch to go without checking.

The man who fell on a snow bank and slid underneath the bus would've been seen disappearing by a driver watching offloading passengers through his mirror. That kind of vigilance happened when I was a young 'un, especially in winter, especially near snow banks and ice patches.

The last death by bus may've been the pedestrian's fault, but the bus was making a right-hand turn. Aren't they supposed to look all ways before turning? Haven't they been taught to anticipate stupid pedestrian moves?

And to top off our safety-defying TTC stories, we have photos of bus drivers texting and driving. One wonders how many "accidents" almost happened. One wonders how many subway drivers are doing it, hidden away behind their shut doors.

Whether pedestrians jaywalk or run for the bus against a red light, our public transit drivers are supposed to be trained to drive defensively against that kind of behaviour. They're supposed to retain that safety training. For in the end in bus or streetcar versus human being, human dies.

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