December 1, 2008
Two weeks ago, while returning from school on a city bus, my six-year-old son was swung at and hit with a metal cane by an agitated woman.
His offence? Passing to her left while getting on the vehicle as she searched through her purse for bus fare.
This came moments after the same woman — irate over the late arrival of her bus ride — used the same cane to strike the side of another vehicle that was briefly held up at her transit stop.
Fortunately, the damage she inflicted in both cases was minimal.
Her cane swing was more Montgomery Burns than (Classy) Freddy Blassie.
But the incident showed that bus belligerence now competes with road rage in our city’s social ugliness sweepstakes.
Common decency on city transit, it seems, is in a steady state of freefall.
Just ask Astrid Lynden, a legally blind Surrey woman who has relied on Lower Mainland transit to help her get around since 1980.
Lynden cites everything from potty-mouthed passengers, to graffiti, to bus stop litterbugs for souring the public-transit experience in 2008.
And she wants our transit bosses to address this prevalence of boorish behaviour.
“Upper management at Translink … should be made to sit down and listen to the concerns, complaints and recommendations from the riding public,” she says.
She’s not alone in her assessment.
On several occasions, I’ve seen able-bodied riders take up the so-called courtesy seats of a crowded bus while small children or seniors were forced to fend for themselves.
Meanwhile, the minority of etiquette-avoiders are also guilty of offences ranging from shouting into their cellphones to hording the seat beside them with their purse or backpack.
To its credit, TransLink is at least growing wise to some of this anti-social activity.
Last year, the agency’s newsletter The Buzzer had to remind folks to be extra courteous to the elderly and those with disabilities.
But perhaps our transportation agency needs to get more creative.
Last week, it announced a new-and-improved version of its IPhone application, allowing customers to display transit maps and track down a nearest bus stop.
How nice. Maybe now they can turn their attention to a smart-phone application that spits out some rules of engagement for those about to ride the bus.
Especially before faithful but frustrated customers like Astrid Lynden give up on public transit for good.