A Letter To Somebody Who Knows Not From The Bus

This editorial about why bus drivers shouldn’t have to call out stopsirritated me so much that I had to write a letter about it. It hasn’t been published yet, but here’s what I wrote. By the way,hereis a post that Carin wrote last year expressing similar frustrations to give you an idea of how long this has been going on.

Dear Editor,

As a blind bus rider, I take issue with your editorial Let bus drivers focus on the road, published in Monday’s Mercury.

I have to wonder if it was penned by somebody who has ever bothered to ride a bus in Guelph on a regular basis.  My guess is no, because clearly there is little or no understanding of what actually goes on on some of these busses.  Drivers carrying on long conversations with riders or even on their cell phones is something that happens routinely, and no thought is seemingly given to either of these things distracting the driver from the task at hand.  That being the case, how is announcing your current location for the benefit of a segment of your ridership any worse?  The mind boggles.  As a bus driver, it’s your job to know where you are, so why is it so hard to tell me?

In the editorial you also state that “the practice of asking your driver to let you know when your stop is coming up is the solution.”  That’s fine and many times it works, but many times it doesn’t.  I wish I had a nickel for every time myself or a friend has been forgotten about and missed a stop.  I would be getting close to having the money to buy my own car and hire a driver so I wouldn’t have to take the bus anymore.  And what do you suppose is the main reason myself and other blind folks get forgotten about on a bus?  That would be those long conversations with other riders or with somebody on the cell phone that in the eyes of the paper either don’t happen or aren’t a big deal and not distracting to the drivers at all.

I’m not writing this letter to slag all bus drivers.  I thank all of them who have called out stops and who have not forgotten to let me off where I ask.  Your efforts are truly appreciated.  I write in the hopes that drivers who complain and folks like those at the paper who don’t understand what stop calling means to people like me from an independence and efficiency standpoint will start to realize the importance of this issue.

Steve Wettlaufer,

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