On the Buses

Guelph Transit Issues; and Mis-handling by The City of Guelph, and City Council

A resident’s comments.

I do not right this letter lightly, or with any agenda, other than wanting to be able to get to and from work without it costing me $50/day.

I am seriously incredulous at your actions in the current labour issues with Guelph Transit. I am generally in favour of unions, and my politics do lean centre left, however on this issue, I am not on one side or the other.

I take transit every single day, often 2-4 times depending on my personal schedule. I know there are some very good, civic minded, courteous, and fair drivers. I also know that there are many who do not reflect those characteristics. Many are discourteous, oblivious, unhelpful, and frankly are just poor drivers, focussed on getting to the midpoint of their route, so they can take a long break at Tim Horton’s or another coffee shop, and who then speed like crazy to get back to the central station for another break. It is frustrating, and at points, seriously scary to ride with some of them. I have in fact on numerous times adjusted my schedule to avoid certain drivers.

As you can see, I have my issues and concerns with the quality and hospitality of the transit drivers, and I frequently hear drivers talking politics while on the bus with other drivers. (One of the routes I take is the Number 4, meaning I am frequently on the bus when they are all taking it downtown or back to base.) I am also not a huge fan of the conversations I overhear, and am not an advocate of how they view so many aspect of their contract as “rights” and how they talk frequently about abusing them (Sick Days, reporting issues on buses, ect.). So I am not a proponent of the entitled atmosphere that seems to pervade the union either.

However, they are not on strike. You have chosen to lock them out, and to do that vote in-camera, without letting your constituents know how you voted: in favour of continued negotiation, seeking to come to an amicable resolution without initiating the disruption of the lives of MANY hard working people of Guelph (who are here year round, not just for the university school season); or voting to run this situation over a cliff, making reaching a contract even more challenging, and seriously, excuse my French, pissing off many voters. Believe me, if the union had gone on strike, I would be writing a letter blasting them for ignoring the needs of the community they claim to serve.

I know that the union has some crazy demands (the washrooms downtown are key card access. If they are not clean and are messy, who exactly has the ability to mess them up?) and I have been working 18 months without a raise, while my work load increases as a result of business demands (Now I am not complaining about that, since when I do get raises, they tend to be for more than 5%) so 6% over 4 years sounds perfectly reasonable.

But you are elected to look after the interests of the people of the City of Guelph, to look out for our communal and individual best interests.

I fail to see how this lock out is in my best interest. I am now attempting to arrange car pool rides to get to and from work, as well as other activities. I cannot bike to work, as I have a bad back from a serious accident. To walk would take about 1.5 – 2.5 hours each way. Any money I spend on a cab ride would be money not spent at restaurant to sit on patios at night (say for example the Albion), or at local businesses (Pond’s Photo where I had to cut down on the number of pictures I was getting printed and framed from my vacation, which I ordered this Saturday), or on movies at the cinema (The Bookshelf is a favorite of mine), or even splurging on fancier food stuff (West End Bakery, Paisley Fine Foods, and Angelino’s).

Because of this lock out, and the inconvenience it will cause, my funds are being pulled out of a variety of locations for the local economy, and will instead go to gas stations as I offer to pay for gas of family and friends, and to Red Top Cab.

I really hope the results of the in-camera session are released, so I can know if either of you, Ian Findlay or Andy van Hellemond, are worthy of my vote, since I live in your ward, and you can be sure that when it come to voting for a mayor, I will vote for one who does more than pay lip service about working hard for the needs of the community at press conferences.

In my humble voter opinion, you blew the chance to have more community support on your side in this process.

And if community views are not heard and understood in the lead up to situations like this, then I guess it will take ballot result for you to figure out that you work for us, not unions, or city staff, or special interests, or business lobbies. CM

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