A Letter to OC Transpo

I don’t normally post about this kind of stuff on here, but as it’s something I wrote and my blog will reach the highest number of people possible, I hope you’ll forgive the intrusion.


To Whom It May Concern,

I wish to make a complaint about one of your drivers. Today (Wednesday May 20th, 2015) he was driving the 1 Ottawa/Rockcliffe at 3:02. It was bus number 5172.

The driver is normally rude and belligerent with passengers. I’ve watched him kick off multiple people for various reasons and even threaten to contact the police against a young adolescent. I realize that bus drivers have a stressful job, but that doesn’t excuse his behaviour.

This afternoon an autistic teenager got on the bus with his caretaker. He noticed a transfer on the ground so picked it up and tried to hand it to the driver. He had really poor motor control so he just kind of threw it at him. You have to understand: this teenager could barely speak, had difficulty walking and no control over his body.

The driver stopped the bus and told the kid and his caretaker to get off the bus. The caretaker explained that he was severely autistic. One of the things he likes to do is clean, so he was trying to be helpful. This was how the rest of their conversation went:

Driver: I don’t care, I don’t like s**t thrown at me.

Caretaker: Look, he has special needs. He’s autistic.

Driver: I don’t f*****g care, I don’t like f*****g s**t thrown at me.

Caretaker: Look, I get it. You deal with people every day. I get that. But you’re not looking at the bigger picture.

Driver: Go sit down.

The caretaker said it wouldn’t happen again.

When they went to get off, the caretaker said “Thank you for letting us stay on the bus.”

The driver made no reply.

I know that drivers have to put up with the public and that many of us can be rude or dismissive of bus drivers. They have to deal with many stressful situations that often bring their lives into danger. They do a job that I wouldn’t and couldn’t do.

However, no one, and I repeat, no one deserves treatment like I witnessed today. It was rude, terribly unprofessional and perhaps one of the meanest things I have ever seen. A special needs child was just happy to take the bus. He wasn’t doing any harm. Neither him nor his caretaker deserved that kind of treatment.

Bus drivers deal with the public on a daily basis. As such, they should treat riders as they would wish to be treated. Drivers are responsible for keeping their passengers safe. How safe do we as riders feel when we witness treatment like that? This is but the most recent in a string of bad behaviour from this driver. My only regret is that it took me so long to say anything.

I know that I will likely not get a response to this letter. To that end, I am posting this letter to my blog, Facebook and Twitter. It is my hope that someone sees this letter and does something about it. My opinion of OC Transpo wasn’t great to begin with, but it fell quite far this afternoon.

Yours truly,

Jamieson Villeneuve

59 Comments on “A Letter to OC Transpo

  1. Send it directly to OC! I’ve always gotten responses to my complaints… Busses frequently not showing up or passing by because they were too full. I may be naive, but I always got the impression that they took my concerns seriously.

  2. This deeply saddens and concerns me. My daughter Laura has Down Syndrome. She went to her training day today at her new job at Whole Foods. Coincidently, she and her job coach took the bus there…the number 1! Laura is bus training so she will be able to bus back and forth to work independently.
    The challenges continue…….

    Leslie Gulick.

  3. i have a daughter the same u ever said that to her u would be the one thrown off the bus and will learn what not to say!! god dam bus drivers u get shitty pay people can be assholes but now everybody have controls over there body and mouths but u do yup .. one day u will do it to the wrong person and u will get the crap kicked out of u and i really hope while ur getting the boots u will think if i just shut my mouth did my job i wouldn’t be bleeding on the concrete here u bastard

  4. Thank you for sharing.

    I’ve shared on social media so that hopefully something is done about this.

  5. Jamieson, I feel you and I hear you. I have called OC Transpo’s customer service line on numerous occasions to inform a supervisor or someone there that a bus driver has mistreated a client, a bus does not show up or simply that I myself was treated with disrespect and NEVER EVER has anyone called me back, apologized or advised me that the situation is being rectified. In fact, I have been given every reason and excuse possible as to why a bus driver is entitled, yes entitled to behave maliciously towards the public and the city they serve. I STOPPED taking the bus, I prefer to pay $225 a month for parking than to step foot on OC Transpo. I strongly feel that OC is Broken. They need to visit customer satisfaction training with an open mind and vigorously. Its time for OC Transpo to deal with its failures and start being a part of our community in a POSITIVE way. YOU ARE CORRECT – NO ONE and I MEAN NO ONE should be treated the way the individuals in your story were treated – EVER. I too work with the public and I would lose my job in a heartbeat and would definitely face disciplinary action. OC Transpo, this unfair treatment of people MUST STOP.


    Concerned Citizen

    • My hatred of OC Transpo literally helped me get over my fear of learning to drive.

      I suppose I should thank them, in a way. I agree, their system is broken, and they appear to have no desire to fix it.

  6. Did you send this to OC Transpo, or are you just blogging about it?

    There’s a customer complaint form here: http://www.octranspo1.com/about-octranspo/customer_service. Unless you send it to OC Transpo, you won’t get any action. Every complaint is relayed to the driver, and disciplinary action can be taken.

    I hope that when a bus driver is polite and courteous in a stressful situation, you respond by sending in a compliment, as well as complaining when a driver reacts to having stuff thrown at him.

    • Sorry I do not agree sneaky pony. Part of a driver’s job is to be courteous to the public at all times. My expectation is that they do so and as such do not warrant a compliment. Their reward for that behaviour is their salary. If however a driver goes above and beyond by doing something exceptional then yes a compliment should be made. Equally so, when exceptionally negative behaviour is demonstrated then they should be chastised. If the information in this letter is factual then shame on the driver.

      • I fully disagree Steve. First of all it’s very important to complain to the source to get action, and secondly when people do an exceptional job it’s critical that they are also praised. This is a very sad situation, and raising awareness of it’s great – but raising a mob isn’t the way to go, start with a customer complaints form and go from there.

      • Considering so many similar experiences by OC Transpo customers being written about as replies on this post, and saying they have never received a response, I’d say Heidi’s just looking to defend the indefensible. That’s okay, a lot us Canadians would try, but do not dismiss the fact that OC Transpo clearly has a lack of consideration toward customers and a track record of not contacting customers back to follow up. I personally had *video evidence* of a driver’s disgusting and continued harassment after I had gotten off the bus and walked down the sidewalk for very calmly complaining about a similar incident to the driver and letting her (the driver) know that her attitude was ableist and unacceptable. A mob wasn’t raised then, or any other time customers have complained and not received a follow up, so I’d say it’s about time.

      • Yeah, thanks for that suggestion Heidi but I don’t think I’ll waste my time using a complaints form, knowing full well that my comment will end up on an unmonitored email account and will be purged within ….a month? No, it’s 2015. Better ways to get action.

  7. Forwarded to @cbcmorning. Hope they do their usual bang up job covering the story. The sad commentary from OCtranspo insiders who say NOTHING will happen is as disturbing as the story itself.

  8. Please write to your local council person and they will forward it to the correct people.

  9. My grandson has autism. I completely side with the caretaker, and think the driver should be charged with assault. That behaviour is reprehensible and the driver deserves to be “re-educated”. Shame in him/her.

  10. Good for you for doing this….over the years I have sent many complaints to oc transpo via their website link but never ever did I get a response from them.

  11. I called OC Transpo regarding Mackenzie king bridge and their drivers. I work at DND and there was a blind vet trying to catch a bus during rush hour. He stood under the stop sign and buses kept picking people up before the sign and then driving by him. He stood there for over 15 minutes before one of the probably 95’s that went by stopped for him.

    Oc Transpo’s response to me: “sir why don’t you go and watch and keep track of the bus numbers and times and call us back when you have more information” They seriously expected me to go watch their drivers. I understand needing that info for a single incident but this is 15-20 buses its obviously an issue with the stop or the drivers in general. I told the to send one of their paid employee’s like maybe one of their security officers to watch and I got a “sorry sir, that’s not their job”.

    This was the straw that broke the camels back, I bought a car and drive to work now and I pay a ridicules amount for parking and gas to avoid these people and I’ve never been happier with my commute.

  12. A bus transfer is a flimsy little piece of paper. It wouldn’t make contact, it would drift to the floor. Who gets angry over that ? That driver must have some serious anger management problems. And as soon as the caregiver explained, he should have apologized. I couldn’t do his job but it sounds like he isn’t well suited to it either.

  13. I see others have posted this to OC and to CBC radio morning. I am a disability activist here in Ottawa, but with a large national online social media reach. I’ve shared this post widely. This driver needs to be taken off the roads and put into therapy now.

  14. I’d sent it directly to John Manconi, requesting a response. I’d also reach out to the Ottawa Citizen/Ottawa Sun to increase awareness. Simply put, people need to speak up about these types of incidents. Everyone deserves respect.

  15. Keep The Video’s on your phone Rolling. It’s about time some Drivers, went on a Customer Service Course. No wonder people get nasty at the drivers Sometime.

  16. Report it. Time, date, bus # and details. My husband is a driver. This is not okay and they will do something about it. Good luck.

  17. So sad. I’m very proud of the Caretaker, it sounds like she handled the situation well. Thank you for reporting this, slowly the world will become educated.
    It’s totally unsafe to have something thrown at you while you’re driving so I get his initial reaction to stop the bus. After that, not good. It sounds like that driver has some personal issues and maybe would be happier in a different line of work, but that’s not my call!

  18. Jamieson,

    I too have experienced frustration reaching out to OC Transpo directly. After reading your blog, I wrote to our Mayor Jim Watson this morning, inviting him to read your blog. I received a response to my email a few minutes ago (yes, probably a staffer who wrote it, nevertheless it happened within hours). Here is part of the response:

    Upon being alerted to the blog and situation, we followed-up with OC Transpo who is investigating the matter. I have copied the General Manager of Transit Services, Mr. John Manconi, so that he is also aware of your concerns about OC Transpo and your ability to report behaviour and bus issues. Public Transit is a service available to improve our City and we want to ensure that all residents are welcomed aboard.

    Let’s hope that Mr. Watson and Mr. Manconi follow through on their investigation. I encouraged the Mayor and his fellow counsellors to take on the issue of addressing the poisoned culture that exists within this important institution for our city.

    I encourage you to follow up with Mr. Manconi directly, as I will, so that he remains accountable and we can see real change take place. Public transportation is for everyone and should therefore be enjoyed by everyone.


  19. Need more people taking care of each other–just like this writer. Good work!

  20. I’d send it to the media after I first send it to OC Transpo. It seems to be the only way a response or any kind of action is taken.

  21. When I retired I became a bus driver for about 8 years. There are many good drivers out there that enjoy their jobs. It is unfortunate that you have a bad one. I suggest that everyone complain when they see such a driver. The complaints will add up and then something will be done. The driver may be doing the wrong job.

  22. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the caretakers’ calm and professional manner. Saying thank you when getting off the bus is a class move and by controlling themselves made the best of an uncomfortable situation. We will always meet unpleasant people in our lives and it is always best to take the high road – people like the driver are probably used to getting yelled back at but kind words are unexpected and a much better retailiation.

  23. As I read your Blog I became very upset with the whole story about this “Xtremley Rude Driver” but reading the comments I don’t think OC Transpo should be blamed. OC Transpo does have extensive training (months of training and probation periods!) But some drivers are just plain rude (them as individuals!), yes and in this case this rude driver should be written up and the issue brought to OC’s attention. At the same time I know there’s extremely RUDE passengers with drivers as I have a family member who drives for OC Transpo and I’ve heard unbelievable stories. Who do they report them to?
    NO ONE would want the job of a driver it’s not as glamorous as we think it is.

  24. I had a very bad experience with an OC Transpo driver late one night. rather not get into it. I did send an email complaint and they called me to verify and apologize to me. They do answer their emails.

  25. I am a driver with Oc. I do appoligise for this drivers actions it makes us all look bad There is no excuse for this lack of professionalism
    Please leave my name out thank you

  26. For the most part drivers are wonderful people and do a bang up job but there is no way a person like like the driver mentioned above should be doing the drive he is doing. They knew what the job was before they became a driver, they knew they would have to work with the public, they knew they would have to deal with bad roads and awful weather so if they are the kind of person who can’t handle this kind of thing than they should not be a driver because if the everyday kind of stress is too much for them than there’s no way they would be able to handle the out of control Saturday night drunks, the last day of school teenagers, the very angry ‘your 20 minutes late’ during -20 weather kind of people.
    Yes I feel for the drivers who have to deal with the out of control jerks but they knew what the job was about so if you don’t like people don’t get a job where you have to deal with them all day long…and this is the kind of person this driver seems to be. There is NO excuse for this kind of ABUSE.

  27. I’ve met a few bus drivers who were pretty rude. The last one actually made me cry just because it had been that kind of day and it was the last straw. I got off at the next stop just so he wouldn’t see me cry and then caught the next one. Put in a complaint but who knows what happens with those. Also witness a lot of unsafe driving. Running reds, speeding, distracted driving, tail gating. Not to mention the drivers I see smoking out the doors of the bus. Maybe we need to start video recording more to show how terrible the service has become.

  28. Dear Jaimeson, I have a lot of family that work for para and oc transpo and yes as difficult as the job can be there is no room for disrespect like that. I have a 7 year old autistic son and if the driver came to me like that they would have had to call security cause I would not have taken it as well as that man did. I left my email please send me the letter privately and I will assure it gets somewhere.

  29. This is such a sad story.

    Up to now I have always loved taking the bus in Ottawa, as a rich person, I always have lots of 100 dollar bills on me and when I get on the bus I just show the driver a bunch of 100’s and say I don’t have anything smaller, as a result, I always ride free. Its super being rich!

  30. Disgraceful! I am actually waiting to hear back from OC Transpo regarding a complaint I made last week.
    I carry a cane, so it is not in invisible disability. (not that it should matter at all). The driver would not lower the step all the way for me to get off, and then said “you only went one stop, you should have walked”.
    Not sure what is going on these days, but I agree, it’s getting worse all the time.

  31. I must say that the bus driver is a condescending piece of garbage to treat people (especially those with autism and the person’s caretaker) this way. Hopefully the driver is fired. That kind of conduct is totally unacceptable.

    After reading the third comment, I wonder if that’s the same bus driver who slammed a door in my brother’s face as he was trying to board a bus while in the downtown core close to the Rideau Centre stop and the driver proceeded to berate my brother.

    “I agree, their system is broken, and they appear to have no desire to fix it.”

    In the last month or so, I wrote them with a suggestion for transit service improvements and did not receive a reply. One told me recently “they were backlogged on emails.” That’s 100% pure horseshit!!! All they do at the customer service department with suggestions & most complaints is this: Delete, Delete, Delete. They probably don’t even READ most complaints or suggestions for improvements…

    Hopefully the Mayor & Mr. Manconi follows through on their investigation and they are not lying to you Jamieson.

    • As someone who used to work for the City, I can say that in my experience there was never a shortage of staff to keep up on work. Rather, I would complain that in every City office I’ve been there have been an overabundance of staff and a lack of work to go around. I will back up your 100% pure horseshit comment.

      You didn’t receive a reply because it was too difficult an e-mail to answer while still sounding positive or without making any actual commitments to improvement that you could later call them out on.

  32. See, this is precisely the reason why I was wanting to do a small comic book about a masked heroine who came to the rescue of people being mistreated by OC transpo. (and before you think I’m being sarcastic… And honestly I am a lot of the time, this time I’m really not) like personally, I very stopped busses from leaving behind people struggling to get on, driven someone to a stop ahead of where they didn’t catch the bus etcetera etcetera… I don’t even take the bus! Just had a really long lunch hour beside a bus stop. So I mean, can you imagine how many bus related bad days people are having? The comic would have been a satirical eye opener that would really get people worked up. Too bad I’m no comic book artist lol just thought I’d share that random thought. Goodnight.

  33. This is horrible! As a mother of a young man with autism (who takes the bus on his own) it scares me to think that he would be thrown off the bus for picking up litter (something he does constantly as he is very concerned about the environment). I hope OC Transpo does something about this!!

  34. I Currently Being out of work and I only Wish I could Drive for OC , Being Helpful to all Riders is the Job !

  35. Good for you ,lets see how easy it is to shove this under the bus. As a grandma of 2 autistic boys its hard enough getting them through a school day. One is high functioning ,the other will need help the rest of his life. With caracter signs like squacking,flapping, rocking most people dont get it. I glad there are people like you to help get out the message that autistic kids are great and need respect too.

  36. Posted on facebook and tagged to OC Transpo
    Normand Laviolette

  37. Thank you for posting this Jamieson. I also experienced ableism and extreme rudeness on the number 4 to Carleton earlier this year. Though I had video evidence of the driver’s continued harassment after I got off the bus, which I sent to OC Transpo along with an emailed complaint that was preceded by a phone complaint, I never received a response. Unfortunately, I did not follow up because it was my last term of school and that was enough stress on its own, but I was still very anxious to ride the 4 afterwards. I applaud you and hope OC Transpo deals with ableism and unacceptable behaviour from drivers swiftly.

  38. If what is reported is true then yes the drivers foul language was uncalled for. However when the caregiver explained the situation the driver backed down and allowed them to stay on board. He had garbage thrown at him and if the person doing this had not been handicapped then it was intolerable. Again when the facts were explained he changed. Not too gracefully but he did.
    Lets not have all you folks jumping on the unseen bandwagon and screaming for his dismissa
    .. By the way i have been in ottawa over forty years. I am not a bus driver but i know that many drivers deserve praise and sympathy for what they put up with. The really bad are few and far between.

    • Always someone willing to defend bad behaviour. Sure, many drivers do their jobs and I agree, sometimes it’s not an easy job. By the same token, anybody that deals with the public has to show restraint and common sense, which this driver appears to lack. Not sure what point you’re trying to make by saying the really bad are few and far between? We’re supposed to just accept them cause all the others are just swell??

      Just the fact that this guy dropped a few F bombs on a passenger call for discipline. Do you swear at your customers?? And the kid tried to give him a discarded fare off – saying that constitutes having garbage thrown at him is BS. And I’m not even getting into the matter of him not being sensitive to someone with special needs – and I would suggest you’d have to be a bit of a dolt to not be able to recognize someone with special needs, especially if their caregiver IS WITH THEM AT THE TIME.

      We pay their salaries. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable. Period.

  39. Customer Relations
    Interpretation Line:
    613-741-4390 (for languages other than English or French)

    Fax: 613-842-3633

    Customer Relations –
    Hours of Operation:
    Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
    » Holiday Hours of Operation

    – I hope this helps, copy/pasted right off of OC Transpo’s website. You’re welcome, I hope this helps pursuit your complaint.

  40. You were right to share on your blog and social media sites, because they would not have ever opened your letter otherwise.
    Thanks for taking the time to write about the incident.

  41. You are quite right at bringing this to everyone’s attention. This kind of behaviour should not be tolerated at any time. I agree they have jobs where they have a high level of stress but that is no reason to stop being professional in it. I do hope this letter gets to the right people and he gets his just reprimand. My sister’s has two autistic boys and has enough on her plate without having to deal with outside sources of this nature, and I’m certain the caregiver didn’t need the aggravation.

  42. With every job there is a bad apple, like this situation here. When my dad was supervisor for OC Transpo way back when, he would receive a complaint, have a talk with the bus driver, file a report then let management take care of the rest. The problem here, as with every job is a lack of social consciousness or awareness. In other words be kind to others since you work for the public (leave your problems at home). There are some people who cannot handle the public well enough, those individuals need some training in anger management and then some.

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