B.C. Transit, drivers reach a compromise on calling out stops

Bus drivers won’t have to call out every stop using their handheld microphones after B.C. Transit backed away from ordering them to do so.

The drivers are expected to “make their best effort” to obey the call-out request, but they will not be disciplined if they are unable to consistently meet the requirement, B.C. Transit said in a statement.

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“We expect it will take time for operators to feel entirely comfortable with the call-out script and so on-going training and support will be provided,” B.C. Transit said.

Ben Williams, president of Unifor Local 333, said that while drivers are still being asked to call out the stops, B.C. Transit has decided that “using a handheld microphone is no longer an order.”

B.C. Transit will provide training and support to help drivers work toward calling stops and has also agreed to explore other options, such as using an automated system that would call out stops and allow drivers to focus on driving, Williams said.

The issue came to light after the Canadian Federation for the Blind said that people who are visually disabled are being discriminated against because stops are not announced on B.C. Transit buses.

B.C. Transit’s initial order that drivers call out each stop or face discipline drew a heated response from the union.

Williams said the plan forced drivers to engage in distracted driving, which is identified as a factor in many accidents. The union and corporation will continue to meet and discuss the issue, said B.C. Transit. 

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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