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TriMet will change policy after concerns raised over ‘Al M’ videos

Posted by on June 29th, 2010 at 11:33 am

TriMet has made a policy change in light of complaints about a bus operator who made videos of himself and his passengers — sometimes while driving — and then posted them on this blog.

The issue surfaced after I published a video statement by bus operator Al Marguiles. In the comments of that story, Marguiles (posting as “Al M”) engaged other readers and encouraged them to visit his blog to watch videos about people who bike and about BikePortland.

After watching those and other videos on the “Rantings of a TriMet Bus Driver” blog, several people complained to TriMet that they were concerned Marguiles was driving distracted. In some videos he was operating a video recorder and having a conversation with a passenger while driving.

One of the people who filed a formal complaint was frequent BikePortland commenter and contributor Marcus Griffith, although he spoke only for himself and was not acting as an official representative of BikePortland.

The issue received widespread media attention and was featured on KATU and KGW TV as well as on the blogs of the Portland Mercury and The Oregonian.

TriMet Communications Director Mary Fetsch says their current policy restricts use of “handheld personal devices, such as cell phones, video cameras and other devices while operating a TriMet vehicle” but it does not “expressly restrict an operator from having someone else record them with such devices while operating a vehicle.” In light of the Al Marguiles situation, Fetsch explained the following policy change:

“We are making changes to the policy this week to restrict creating personal communications via audio or video device, such as for a blog, while operating a vehicle.”

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  • Marcus Griffith June 29, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Operating a bus is a difficult and demanding occupation that requires the full attention of a driver. To that regards, I am pleased to hear Trimet is being proactive rather than reactive after a major incident.

    Trimet employees have unique insight into the day-to-day operations of a mass transit system. That insight is invaluable to the alternative transportation discussion. Also, too often, the driver’s perspective is not well covered in the press. In that regards, I am impressed with several transportation discussion/blogs that seek to ensure a factual and balanced public debate.

    The two links, I have found to be very informative and are worth reading (I have been a long time reader of Trimet Confidential).

    Trimet Confidentail:
    http://danbusdriverman.blogspot.com/2010/05/trimet-confidential-report-on-accident.html

    Yahoo Group Bus Emergency
    http://busemergencynewsarchive.blogspot.com/2010/06/case-of-paul-cooper-trimet-rail.html

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  • bahueh June 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

    hehehehe…saw you on the TV the other night and started laughing.

    I’m glad the driver’s job is not in jeopardy. Sounds like TriMet is on top of it…Al may think he’s a safe driver, until the time that he’s not.

    More fodder for him to rant about…

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  • Roma June 29, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    As much as I think Al M is a lunatic, I think Marcus Griffith is equally so for going after him in such a personal and public manner.

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  • q'Tzal June 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    I personnaly ride this public transportation and report every act I witness bus drivers doing that endangers the public.
    Am I holding public transit drivers to a higher standard than the general public: HECK YEAH!
    They need to behave as professionals that have a the means to maim and kill the general public with a single thought or often a lack of thought.

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  • Anonymous June 29, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I note that Mary Fetsch has been on the BTA board for a long long time, and tri-met drivers still rate cyclists as one of their worst peeves. Mary, to my disappointment has done little to help cyclists and bus operators get along.

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  • Terry June 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    AL M was the only one who went after anyone in a personal and public manner.
    Al M posted videos, people voiced concerns, AL M made personal attacks against his numerous critics, Al M than sent out requests to be interviewed to several newspapers, Al M and others were interviewed, the news reported it and Trimet changed its blogging-while-driving policy. This all played out on AL M’s blog and spilled over (at AL M’s request) to other blogs and the news. AL M is the driving force to keep this mess going in a public manner. I guess he just doesn’t want his burst of fame to end.

    I am glad that Trimet didn’t get distracted by AL M’s self-victimization and childish demand for attention. Trimet’s quick and appropriate response is a welcome change to the organization’s often glacier response times. I hope this marks a new era in how Trimet responds to public concerns.

    Thanks Marcus for sticking your neck out to bring the distracted driving concerns to Trimet’s attention. I have feeling your name is going to take a few more beatings before the trolls move on to fresher prey.

    Bigger thanks to Jonathan for keeping this site going all these years. The coverage and the discourse keeps getting better.

    PS: The links Marcus posted helps explain how blind-spots interfere with road safety.

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  • Hopeful Epilogue June 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I hope this is the last chapter to this bat crazy ordeal. Maybe the last sentence can be “and trimet drivers and cyclist lived happily ever after”

    For the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many people and so many news channels picked this up.

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  • maxadders June 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I remember watching one of Al’s videos– a couple years ago– and was shocked that not only would he drive a bus while futzing with a camcorder, but that he’d put himself at even greater risk of losing his job by posting it on the internet.

    I’ve been a professional driver (taxi, not bus) and I’d never in a million years consider that sort of thing to be even remotely kosher.

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  • Roma June 29, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    “AL M was the only one who went after anyone in a personal and public manner.”

    I disagree – I think Marcus did as well.

    “Thanks Marcus for sticking your neck out to bring the distracted driving concerns to Trimet’s attention. I have feeling your name is going to take a few more beatings before the trolls move on to fresher prey.”

    First: I agree with what you said about Al M.

    Second: Just because I have an opinion opposite yours, it doesn’t make me a ‘troll’. And just because you have your opinion, it doesn’t make Marcus some sort of heroic pariah.

    I just think filing multiple complaints with someone’s employer is a pretty douchetastic move. If Marcus wanted Tri-Met’s policy changed, that’s one thing, but going after Al M (who apparently has an impeccable safety record) directly is another.

    So we’ll have to agree to disagree over Marcus being some sort of superhero for the common man.

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  • Max June 29, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    5 complaints were filed against Al within the week of this story, 4 of them were from Marcus. Before that, Al had 3 or 4 complaints (of any kind) filed for THE ENTIRE YEAR — lower than the TriMet average. Al has 14 years of incident-free driving for TriMet behind his back, and even more pre-TriMet.

    I think Marcus’ move to try to get Al fired was a pretty low blow. What do Al’s riders say? You know, the ones who have actually *seen* Al being filmed while driving? Have they been complaining?

    No, the only person who is complaining is Marcus — and he lives in Vancouver!

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  • matt picio June 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Roma (#3, #8) – I think Marcus is right. This isn’t a case of some guy and his family in the family sedan – this is a professional driver with a license to drive others, carrying up to 75 other people’s lives in his hands and wielding a 30-ton chunk of steel. I’d rather he not be making blog videos while operating the bus – he can do that on his own time, or at the least when the bus is not in motion.

    Does Marcus have something personal against Al M? Possibly – only Marcus knows for sure. But that doesn’t change the fact that in this case, he’s right. Obama might or might not have something personal against BP – does that mean he shouldn’t take steps to hold oil companies responsible? When you decide to operate a bus, or become a cop, or an attorney, or a doctor, you are placing yourself under a higher level of scrutiny, and a higher level of expectations. And given the influence wielded over the lives of others, that’s appropriate. Marcus asked the right questions. You’re certainly entitled to your personal opinion of him, and I’m not entering a debate on those comments.

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  • q'Tzal June 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Roma :
    So we’ll have to agree to disagree over Marcus being some sort of superhero for the common man.
    No, Marcus is no “super hero”.

    The “attack” as you so brazenly put it was so very public because Al M CHOSE to make it so.
    Complaints filed directly to the Trimet website have failed to gain traction against any bus driver. Mathmatically speaking, at least one bus driver working for Trimet must be guilty of something that the complaint system could bring to light but I’ve seen no evidence that it has. The failure of public complaints to Trimet failing to correct Al M’s behavior DOES NOT indicate that he is correct or safe.

    Talk of his anti-bike hate speech is just talk so he came here to troll around. Maybe he wasn’t getting enough attention so he went on the local news to air his complaints. Kind of like yelling “MOM, HE WON’T STOP LOOKING AT ME!!!” By doing this he forced the resolution in to the court of public opinion, and not just ours. Not responding then is a tactic admission of guilt.
    Luckily he video taped his mistakes. Perhaps he considers himself to be better than everyone else. Perhaps he’s the superhero: able to do more than 3 things at once when us mere mortals can not.

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  • matt picio June 29, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Max (#9) – re: safety, so, should we wait until an incident occurs before saying anything? Distracted driving is a problem, even if it hasn’t resulted in an injury or death so far. We’re talking about a 15 ton bus (please disregard 30 tons in my previous post – should be 30,000 lbs) – it has the potential to do a lot more damage than a car, especially given the wider and longer cross sections, and decreased maneuverability and visibility.

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  • trail user June 29, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Al talked and looked like an uncivilized A-hole. If he had played nice in relaying his concerns about erratic bicyclists, he may have increased awareness. Instead, he let loose unfocused rants expecting an unsympathetic audience and got one. All in delivery.

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  • Roma June 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    “The failure of public complaints to Trimet failing to correct Al M’s behavior DOES NOT indicate that he is correct or safe.”

    It also DOES NOT indicate that he’s incorrect or unsafe. Presumably he’s been interacting with passengers on his bus for 15 years, and has a clean driving record. Nothing he was doing was outside of TriMet policy.

    Realistically, this accomplishes nothing. Video camera or not, he will still be interacting with people on his bus in the same manner, and hopefully he will continue to remain accident free.

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  • A.K. June 29, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Eh, it’s Al M’s own fault for going around, publicizing his blog, all while being a Tri-Met operator.

    If you work of an agency that deals with the public, any any company at all, you’re putting your employment on the line when you start getting involved in non-work activities that can draw complaints.

    Yeah, in a perfect word you could talk about anything you want and it wouldn’t have repercussions on your job, but that’s not how things work.

    I had an employee that was willingly creating what could be a legitimate PR problem, I’d find a way to stop them as well.

    In the end, Al M is really the only person who carries any blame for what has happened.

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  • A.K. June 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Wow… I need to proof read a little better. Let’s try that again:

    “Eh, it’s Al M’s own fault for going around, publicizing his blog, all while being a Tri-Met operator.

    If you work at an agency that deals with the public, or any company at all, you’re putting your employment on the line when you start getting involved in non-work activities that can draw complaints.

    Yeah, in a perfect word you could talk about anything you want and it wouldn’t have repercussions on your job, but that’s not how things work.

    If I had an employee that was willingly creating what could be a legitimate PR problem, I’d find a way to stop them as well.

    In the end, Al M is really the only person who carries any blame for what has happened.”

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  • Joanna M June 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Okay wait a minute here… Al’s not the one who brought this to the media — the emails he posted on his blog where he offered to give media interviews were responses to people making allegations against him and CC’ing assorted news outlets. What was he supposed to do, not respond at all? You see what happens when he didn’t respond on KATU last Friday – they brought in Marcus (presumably at his request since Al was not in contact with KATU until after they aired the story) to give his side of the story alone. So for Marcus to say that Al is the one who invoked the media is an outright fabrication – Marcus did a pretty good job of that on his own.

    Go ahead and think Al made immature posts here or was gross in a video eating with his mouth open. But keep that separate from how he is as a bus driver. Bonus – Marcus, did you know that second link you posted, calling it a “transportation discussion/blog that seeks to ensure a factual and balanced public debate. The two links, I have found to be very informative and are worth reading” is, in fact, another one of Al’s blogs?

    He was trolling this forum as Ranting Al, but as you can see since you seemed to like that second blog, he is perfectly capable of acting professionally. Maybe he just doesn’t feel like being professional all the time online. I don’t really care, as long as he’s professional at work where it matters. Given the lack of complaints against him and his spotless driving record, I’d say he probably is professional on the job.

    Even if he did chew with his mouth open on this forum. But that’s got nothing to do with him behind the wheel, now does it?

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  • Quineta June 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Another good question: How do all the motorist driving near Al M feel about his distracted driving? They too share a road with Al M and his podcast crew.

    This issue is not about a bus and bike rift or even a personality conflict between Al M and Marcus. After three years of Al M’s posting, enough became enough. Thats all. Whoever spoke up first was going to become troll fodder.

    When the fecal fest started, Marcus had the decency to keep to the high road. That made his case that much more convincing. While Al M was ranting about conspiracies against him, Marcus cited video after video showing “questionable” or “eyebrow-raising” actions by Al M.

    When the dust settled, Marcus’ concerns were accepted as valid and Trimet agreed to change its policy. All Al M can do is keep attacking Marcus personally (which Al M is still blogging about).

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  • bahueh June 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Joanna…if the issue was trolling online, that’ one thing…the issue at hand is the distraction of TriMet drivers using recording devices to give interviews while driving a 12 ton vehicle in downtown traffic. Professional is one thing and we’re all glad Al does his job well…however distracted driving is a MAJOR cause of accidents..no matter what is causing the distraction. TriMet policy changes were the only way to address the issue..and I’m guessing it doesn’t apply to very many drivers to be honest…Al may not do this every single time, but do you want to be on his bus when he is doing it? I wouldn’t.

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  • bahueh June 29, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    simply put, the fact that TriMet listened to and validated Marcus’s concerns with changed policy means Al was overstepping his work responsibilities and boundaries…Al needs to suck it up, and move on.

    there’s no more to it.

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  • Paul Tay June 29, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Watever you guys smokin’, gimme DOUBLE! With all due respect to the obvious safety issue of a big honkin’ outta control bus taggin’ cyclists because of a drivin’ while bloggin’ driver, this conversation is RIOTOUS!

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  • kiol June 29, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Marcus worked with the system and got results despite protest from a rabid blogger. About sums it up.

    Marcus was a class act with his first post. He chose to steer the conversation towards the positive thing bus drivers (including Al) are doing. He could have chose to thumb his nose and gloat. Instead, he played nice.

    What is Al up to right now? Oh, still trying to flame Marcus. Now his blog is dedicated to showing that he was not the only “victim” of Marcus secret conspiracy of fixing riding ninjas and tall-bike bound vikings.

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  • q'Tzal June 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Al M is not above the law.
    His perfect safety record does not make him a perfect bus driver where the public is invovled.
    His perfect safety record is no guarantee that he won’t miss something. He is driving a bus; his inevitable failure will most likely be fatal.
    News media aside, mudslinging aside, he did something wrong enough to require a rule change. A petty and stupid rule. It should have been common sense.
    Al M can take pride though because Trimet made up a new rule just for him: now that’s power.

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  • kiol June 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    flip through Al’s blog and old media and this isn’t the first AL M specific rule at Trimet… About once a year, Allie boy manages to urinate in the wrong person’s lemonade.

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  • q'Tzal June 29, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    If he is this good of a driver make him a trainer and get him off the street every day.
    He may ever have less reason to rant.

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  • Elixa June 29, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Next topic please? Maybe one with bunnies?

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  • tim June 29, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Marcus Griffith (1)
    2nd link, yahoo group bus emergency is Al M’s group for bus operators.

    train user (14) totally agree

    Trimet said they were aware of Al M’s blog and were keeping an eye on it. Their ‘monitor’ was asleep at the wheel.

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  • Arem June 29, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    You know, in motorcycling, there’s a saying:
    “It’s not IF you have a crash, but WHEN.” Being out behind the handlebars or behind a steering wheel, same rule applies, regardless. Could be tomorrow, could be 20 years down the road. Going out on the streets, keeping that in mind like a Damocles’ sword hanging above can really help keep things in perspective, I’ve found. Speaking from experience. Oh, and avoid highway 20 out of Bend…

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  • Max June 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Matt P #13-
    Al isn’t doing anything that is more distracted than what you’d find during the the normal operation of a bus — taking fares, checking transfers, handing out transfers, answering questions, checking the bus computer, keeping an eye “back there” etc.

    Maybe we should outlaw passengers asking questions of a bus driver — since that’s all that he was doing in the videos.

    bahueh #20:
    I’ve been on his bus while a video was being recorded, and I didn’t care — neither did anyone else on the bus. In fact several of the other passengers on the bus became involved in the conversation. Nobody asked Al to stop, and nobody filed a complaint. The only person complaining is Marcus, who has never ridden Al’s bus.

    I think not liking somebody or what they have to say is fine; but trying to get them fired by smearing them through the media is not.

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  • Max June 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    …oops sorry, old link on my name there. doh!

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  • Vance Longwell June 29, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Have you ever heard the saying, “The tighter your grip, the more sand slips through your fingers.”? How about an aging pop-culture reference? Ever read the book, or see the movie, Fight Club? ‘Member when Jack goes berserk on the handsome young blond kid, then declares, “I just wanted to destroy something beautiful.”? How about the phrase, “Counter intuitive.”?

    The so-called distracted driving aspect of this thread is steaming my vegetables. Yes q’Tzal, a perfect record on the clock as a bus driver makes Al M a perfect bus driver. Practically the frickin’ definition, friend. I mean, I suppose I see your point, but I do not accept your conclusions. Consider. I once volunteered as a guinea-pig for a Motorcycle Safety Foundation thang they were doing on drinking and riding a motorcycle. They’d jolt us up with an intravenous shot of ethanol, in varying quantities, and at various intervals, then send us out on a closed obstacle course. I was in my mid 20s, and in bonzo crazy shape. I never dabbed a foot. Never reached a point of fail. Never. They shot me up to an equivalent BAC of just under three times the old 0.10 limit. And I wasn’t the only one either, an old guy on a ‘Wing did the same thing.

    Additionally, and I’ve said this a bunch here so bear with me, but I’ve never had an accident, or a moving violation in my life. I’ve covered millions of miles professionally, and more than my share of civilian driving. I’ve never so much as scratched the paint on a thing I’ve driven, ever. My old man is rapidly approaching 70 and the same goes for him. His father was a state highway man his whole life, and an amazing lush, dude never piled it up once, ever.

    This is why it was so hard to impose drinking and driving laws in the first place. The vast majority of people who did it, including myself, never had a problem. You wanna say luck, but I can prove to you, on paper, that there is no such thing. What this is, is risky behavior. What you are, is a person who takes exception to people taking risks, and involving you in them.

    Okay, fine but you can’t be all, this conclusion, and that conclusion, all premised upon the erroneous assumption that drunk-driving exactly translates into an accident. Before too long, thinking like this ends up taking for granted that if you drink and drive you will die, and kill others. Once you fall off that cliff, here you are all outraged at a person taking risks that you clearly don’t understand completely, nor do you have any direct evidence that there is any problem, of any sort.

    I refer to this as a rule-nazi. Maybe you can’t handle yer booze, and project that onto me. I can handle my booze just fine and resent this implication that I can’t. At the least, you’d think it would be more fair to at least wait for a problem to arise. At any rate, see, rule-nazis make me all nuts. I end up all irrational and stuff. It’s like the person with a smile on their face, for no apparent reason, and me wanting to slap it off. The more you say I must, regardless of how much sense you’re making, the more I say, make me.

    If doing what Al M did, a thing that Al can’t do anymore, is distracted driving, then so is looking in a rear-view mirror. Or checking a lane before changing. Or any other raft of things one does behind the wheel. Add in some of this convoluted paranoia that says ‘if’ is always ‘when’, and viola, tyranny.

    Every rule ya’ll want me to follow just makes me want to break them as fast as you make them. Just from an admittedly infantile, “You’re not the boss of me.”, point of view at the least. Part of being guilty of distracted driving inherently includes being distracted while driving. Given that the buses in Al M’s vids are all moving, and given the number of other folks doing similar, a distraction, a real distraction, will likely produce an accident. No accident, then no distraction, savvy?

    What ya’ll are reacting to is Al M’s audacity in flouting your rules, not the distracted driving. I think it bugs you that he doesn’t see things your way, and his behavior is proof in the puddin’.

    Seriously, hating on Al M, only makes me want to love the guy, and egg him on. I don’t know him, but I’d bet he went to a similar school of thought.

    Oh, and I read in the Oregonian that Marcus Griffith got a ticket for not paying his Tri-Met fair last year. So, ya’ll don’t find his harassment of Al M even a bit pat? None at all? Griffith, you make me wanna mess with you man. Get a life.

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  • Opus the Poet June 29, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Max #30
    Talking to bus operators while in motion is already a Federal offence, why does TriMet need to add anything to that?

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  • Tongue Tied June 29, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Rather than attacking Marcus, why can’t the pro Al M group address the concerns he brought up?

    Vance’s rant does nothing to address any concern anyone mentioned but shows how quickly that group resorts to childish name calling.

    Since Trimet fires every driver after their first ‘preventable’ collision, than it seems fair to conclude every trimet collision involved drivers with perfect safety records. After all, what was the safety record of the driver that hit the 5 people in the crosswalk? Oh yeah, prefect right up to the day she killed several people.

    So yeah, Al M may keep his prefect safety record right up to he kills someone.

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  • Barney June 30, 2010 at 12:43 am

    @ Max #30
    Just because you didn’t care and you didn’t perceive that other riders cared doesn’t mean that 1) no one cared and 2) this holds true for all riders everywhere. Plenty of riders wouldn’t feel comfortable saying so to a bus driver, and plenty of people probably don’t know how to file a complaint and by the time they reach their destination, don’t want to bother with it. But some people do. I don’t really care for the nature of Marcus’ crusade, but Al took a major risk by making himself into such a public figure with his blog depicting behavior that plenty of people view as unsafe. The new policy is a good one, regardless of how it got made.

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  • CaptainKarma June 30, 2010 at 12:52 am

    Wow – What can I say after #32? He really blows my mind!

    Anyway, I did my master’s thesis on the cognitive costs of switching the task that your brain is doing. You cannot really do two, three, or ten things at once. It’s switch, switch switch back, switch here, switch there. It all has a cost in efficiency, or put in another way “attention”. In the case of blogging, being interviewed, or whatever, the driver’s mind is not REALLY on the people in the crosswalk, the youngster who darts out between parked cars, the car door thrown open, etc. Truly, if “blogging while driving” is not disallowed, it definetly will be after the first person gets run down by a bus, which *will* happen statistically at some point. My research shows that hands-free cell phone use in a vehicle is only very insignificantly less dangerous than non hands-free. It is not the holding of a device that impairs so much as it is that the person’s frontal lobes are no longer “on the bus” to truly do the command and control that is required. The person is somewhere else mentally, having that conversation. All it takes is a millisecond to change the course of events irreversibly, as in the case of the 16 year old girl changing tracks on a CD, drifted over into the bike lane and killed a long-time bicyclist in one instant.

    I actually DO believe bus drivers shouldn’t talk, or at least only very minimally. If a person is in given responsibility for others’ lives, he/she needs to be present in the here & now. I don’t care how well he/she thinks they can do, or whether the passengers care, or whatever. It’s just not a fact that you can do two things at once and be there 100% for either.

    Blogging while driving a city bus – it just keeps getting scarier

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  • Vance Longwell June 30, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Wow – What can I say after #35? He really blows my mind!

    There is no such thing as ‘karma’, college boy. Right, you’ve strung together a bunch of subjective abstractions masquerading as metaphor, and then go on to draw conclusions. Uh, no. You should know that the rate at which the brain can process environmental stimulus is astounding. While operating an automobile I’ve seen figures around 800 data inputs per second. Roughly 1500 on a motorcycle, and about 1200 on a bicycle. At this rate you’re absolutely splitting hairs when you assert this does not produce, in effect, a quite analog data processing, well, process. It’s an utterly moot distinction. In order to be true, the laws of physics would simply have to be different.

    What’s your point? A movie is nothing but the projection of a series of still photographs, yet they appear congruous, and as though they are not independent units in a series. Again, you probably know this, but the reflected light from the movie screen leaves a detectable residual image on the retina of each passing still image, and is subsequently interpreted by the brain as contiguous motion. Here we have an example of individual data points being arranged by the front brain in a manner that creates an illusion of analog movement. To me, your point is similar to asserting that I cannot see light because it’s only hitting my retina particle/wave at a time. Yes, but frickin’ apropos of what, man?

    I really hate this kind of debate. Your entire premise is barely more than a giant-sized, subjective, abstraction. Of course the driver’s mind in not REALLY on the people in the crosswalk, to assert such is absurd. The, “mind”, cannot exist outside of the skull it’s in, so how on Earth could a vehicle operator possibly put it anywhere else? You then go on to use the word, “attention”, interchangeably with the phrase, “cognitive process”, which is provably false. Do you want the link to the dictionary, or is that too condescending?

    Dude, my, “mind is on”, all sorts of doody that has nothing to do with operating a vehicle at the time. I’m thinking about weather, interpersonal relationships, and how much I hate Californians as a rule. Switch, switch, switch, homie, you said it yourself. So, yeah, Al M may have his mind somewhere else for an instant, but then back again. Seriously. Apropos of nothing even if you weren’t really wrong. And notice too, how you go from patronizing us with your credentials, to poor synopses of cognitive function, to yeah but none of that matters ’cause once Al M’s, “attention”, goes anywhere but the task at hand, it then never goes back; and there’s dead bodies everywhere.

    See, I know I’m right, and you’re wrong, because Al M, myself, my father, and my grand-father, are glaring examples that indeed, the, “mind”, can most assuredly do multiple things at once. Well, unless you parse reality out into millisecond chunks, which you a clearly want to do. How come I can brake, navigate a turn, disengage the clutch, and change gearing, all at once, while driving a car, without crashing?

    How is this magic feat accomplished, you ask? Simple. A savvy driver will drive defensively, which includes planning ahead. This technique completely mitigates any, favorable even, suggestion that the rate at which we process information has squat to do with safe driving.

    “My research shows that hands-free cell phone use in a vehicle is only very insignificantly less dangerous than non hands-free.”

    Yeah, I call BS on this. You’re research ‘shows’ no such thing. At best, I speculate that your research produces outcomes where the two activities produce anomalies at a similar rate. This is a far cry from the conclusions you draw from the similarities in anomalous outcomes. You can’t say danger, or diminished, or anything. You can say more, or less, and then invent some mind reading thing-a-ma-bob that could deduce from the net effect of these anomalies some sort of projection.

    “All it takes is a millisecond to change the course of events irreversibly, as in the case of the 16 year old girl changing tracks on a CD, drifted over into the bike lane and killed a long-time bicyclist in one instant.”

    More BS. You say, “All it takes is a millisecond…”, but then go on to correlate this with an event that is several seconds in duration. This is utterly absurd. Plus, you are talking about a female now, and Al M is a male. Men and women handle cognitive input in a vastly different way, and men are way more efficient. Bad example, even if you weren’t try to say that an action several seconds in duration transcends the laws of physics and is at once, a millisecond, and then several seconds, simultaneously.

    Why can’t you just state that it is not a good idea to be dicking around while you’re driving a bus? You know, something debatable that I could get on-board with. Instead, we get your pedigree, presumably for purposes of lending yourself authority, in and of itself a repugnant personal trait, and insensitive in a class-sense, then a rundown on an abstraction, see: a thing that only exists within the confines of your college educated brain. Then conclusions made from these abstractions, only to end up pretty much just saying that you don’t think it’s a good idea to be distracted while driving a bus. You know, a much more pedestrian assertion that also fails to afford you the opportunity to be all, “Well, I have an advanced degree, so I’m right and dude’s an idiot.”.

    Please feel free to continue to ignore Al M’s spotless operating record too.

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  • Joanna M June 30, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Bahueh – “distraction of TriMet drivers using recording devices to give interviews while driving a 12 ton vehicle in downtown traffic.”

    Honest question, because I tried looking at his videos – is he actually giving interviews, or is he talking to a passenger that happens to be recording him? I do think there’s a difference – a lot of drivers make small talk or whatever with passengers. I guess what I’m asking is, is the issue that he’s talking to a passenger, or is the issue that he’s being recorded while he does it?
    I have my doubts about TriMet’s policy change (has the text of that been made public?) because if it just says something like “Operators cannot be filmed while driving” then what’s to stop someone from stealthily taping an operator? I bet I could take cell phone videos without anyone knowing what I’m doing, and then who is to blame? Me for doing it or the driver for not noticing and stopping me? What if my driver is talking on their phone or something and I want video evidence of it?
    If the issue is that he’s talking to a passenger though, then I could see a policy change forbidding operators from doing that as making more sense.. maybe something just saying operators can’t talk to passengers unless giving directions or calling a stop or something? I don’t know..

    and to Tongue Tied “Since Trimet fires every driver after their first ‘preventable’ collision, than it seems fair to conclude every trimet collision involved drivers with perfect safety records.” – No they don’t… that driver who hit a woman in the crosswalk in 2008 who lost her leg as a result is still driving a bus for TriMet. So I assume there are plenty of other bus drivers out there who don’t have spotless records either.

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  • Vance Longwell June 30, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Tongue Tied #34 –

    “Vance’s rant does nothing to address any concern anyone mentioned but shows how quickly that group resorts to childish name calling.”

    Uh, yeah. I’m not in the business of placating anyone, Tongue Tied, so count me as nonplussed by your observation. The so-called concerns here are irrational. It’s inherently impossible to, “address”, such regardless of my intent.

    Plus, I find Al M to be a drunken mess, busily abusing our right to express ourselves; and exploiting the power of his labor union. Did you even read my comment? Did you miss the part then, where I stated, “Seriously, hating on Al M, only makes me want to love the guy, and egg him on. I don’t know him, but I’d bet he went to a similar school of thought.”? Can you provide me an example where this statement can be construed as an endorsement of Al M?

    “Since Trimet fires every driver after their first ‘preventable’ collision, than it seems fair to conclude every trimet collision involved drivers with perfect safety records. After all, what was the safety record of the driver that hit the 5 people in the crosswalk? Oh yeah, prefect right up to the day she killed several people.”

    Good gravy man, got fallacy?
    If a tautology is a question which answers itself, what does one call a point that disproves itself? I mean, c’mon. You can’t compare Al M to a bus driver that has had a crash because, point of fact, Al M has not had a crash. Moreover, you cannot support the assertion that a bus driver eventually crashing is inevitable. I sort of dig the cleverness of the word-play exercise, but that’s all it is. However, there’s that whole time-continuum thingy whereby divining the future is impossible. We can talk statistical likelihood all you want, but statistical likelihood is not interchangeable with, “going to happen”.

    Lastly, I place Griffith, based admittedly solely upon his actions regarding this matter, and comments I’ve seen him leave here, in the same cast as Jim “K’tesh” Parsons. A plebeian rule-nazi so terrified by reality, so incredibly insecure, as to be monstrously controlling; and tyrannical in the purest sense of the word. Not to mention the class implications implicit in a scenario where Griffith’s goal is to cause Al M to be fired. That’s just dishonorable. A beef that personal has no place within a bureaucratic setting we all must utilize. That kind of problem, the scope of the intended outcome, these things should be settled by fisticuffs, and not via harassing a nameless, faceless, bureaucracy. I mean, if you got that kinda prollem’ with some one, by all means, man-up, and throw down. Or, launch a passive-aggressive assault upon legions of innocent people all coward-style, his choice. Seriously, if Griffith had a problem with Al M talking to people while he drove, his blog was not produced on the bus, only raw-footage, then it’s on him to handle it, not mommy.

    Look, you and Barny failed. Not that I don’t suck, there’s merit in this position. However, if I suck to the point where you’re just going to insult me personally, and not refute a single thing I said, to not even mention a single thing I said, to only, simply, cast dispersion, then you only say I suck without providing any evidence of this. How is it a comparable thing to write thoughtful, heart-felt, rants, and just say I suck? Surely, if I suck that bad it should be a simple matter to enlighten me via debate, or to defeat my argument, yes?

    Call me names all you want. But for Pete’s sake at least tell me why, otherwise how am I supposed to effing learn anything, yo?

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  • Did I miss it? Again? June 30, 2010 at 11:41 am

    As I read most of these posts, I am left with the impression that everyone that drives will eventually kill someone else.
    Al M has a perfect record until it is broken, therefore we should take action to get him off the road now.
    Can’t that logic be applied to anyone/everyone?
    This is a very slippery slope.
    Is it different because he drives a bus? The potential outcome, death, is the same if he’s driving his family in a Hummer or driving public in a bus, no?

    Vance-
    Thank you for another view point.

    Marcus-
    I do believe this to be a case of you acting vindictively under the guise of public safety, but that is my opinion and I hope I am wrong. In any case, I will not be providing you with a means to destroy my life. Al M’s biggest mistake.

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  • Perry June 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Al M. has a perfect record, and if I saw him driving the bus I was about to get on – I’d stay on the curb and wait for the next one.

    Sorry, but nothing I’ve seen or read from this guy screams “professional”.

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  • trimet chick June 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Buses weigh 40,000 lbs
    20 tons

    3 preventable accidents within 18 months could mean termination or a probationary agreement depending on the severity of the accident. Some Operators break mirrors – not exactly public endangerment

    Opus the Poet (33).
    Talking to bus operators while the bus is in motion is NOT a federal offense but it SHOULD be. :)

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  • Pete June 30, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Wow, this drama’s out of hand. I don’t know Al nor have I stepped foot on his bus, and I could give a crap about his blog or public demeanor, but I know who he is. I commuted his route and he passed me safely and courteously on nearly a daily basis.

    If you guys want to crucify something, the iPhone has threatened my life more in the past three months than Al did in three years of leapfrogging him around Beaverton.

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  • zagreus July 1, 2010 at 7:31 am

    If Al’s blog had been positive or adulatory about bicyclists, I doubt that Marcus or anyone else on this thread would have complained. Going after someone because of the content of their speech, because you disagree with then, is low and frankly authoritarian.

    Call him an idiot, ignore him, refute him, that is America.

    Drivers get complaints on a regular basis for not driving distracted. A screaming baby that does not allow you to concentrate, pull the bus over until the parent quiets the kid, and you have a complaint, even though the driver was being safety conscious. Ask someone with a question to wait until you stop the bus, and you have a complaint. Ask someone to keep their cell phone conversation to a dull roar as they discuss their legal troubles or love life, and you have a complaint.

    Let us eliminate distracted driving across the board, not simply for one thing only.

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  • Marcus Griffith July 1, 2010 at 8:09 am

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Al Margulies posted videos showing conduct a reasonable person would be concerned, including possible public safety risks. Upon viewing the video, I became concerned about the potential ‘distracted driving’ factor (among other points) and openly voiced concerns both in the ongoing discussion and using Trimet’s comment/concern feature (that is what is for after all).

    I was neither the first nor the only person to voice such a concern. Again, my concerns used direct references to Margulies own videos to support my concerns. I also used my real name and provided my personal email both to Trimet and to this discussion.

    Upon review of my concerns, Trimet determined its current policies were inadequate and stated it would revise its rules. At no time did I seek to have Margulies fired, or even disciplined. Trimet’s decisions are Trimet’s alone.

    Margulies’ personal and political statements are of little concern to me. I have vested too much of my life in protecting a person’s free speech to ever impede the open expression of ideas. Not only did I spend years in the military during a time of war, I also carry a service connected disability. To attack free speech would invalidate everything I sacrificed to protect.

    Margulies and others reasonable can not invoke the concept of free speech in defense of his ideology without recognizing such protections apply to his critics as well. But again, my concerns were based on his behavior and not his opinion.

    As a general rule, it is better to make decisions based on evidence and logic rather than speculation and dogmatic assertions. A healthy democracy requires open debate among an educated and vested public.

    But its Thursday, I need to get going. I have a bus and Max to catch to get my physical therapy appointment. The injuries I received when I was hit by a distracted truck driver have not yet fully healed. Its been a year and a half, I am told another year or so and I should be fine.

    -Marcus
    Bus rider, Max rider, cyclists and above all else, a community member.

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  • Shaun July 1, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Why this even an issue?

    On Friday June 18th, Marcus posted a harmless question: “Am I the only one who thinks operating a bus while giving an interview constitutes distracted driving?” Than he followed up by talking to Trimet about it.

    The very next Friday, Trimet announced on the news it was changing its rules. Guess Trimet thought there was problem too.

    So why is Al going after Marcus with a hard-on? Really, what did Marcus do? Express a concern that Trimet validated? Is that bad? Doesn’t the first amendment protect someone’s right to voice concerns to the government? I mean, really, is that all it took to set him off? Maybe Al needs some anger management.

    For some-dead guy’s sake, if the original Case screw-up, Marcus even posted:

    “Until the TriMet video is released, not much people can do but speculate on the details…”

    Marcus wasn’t even one of the people “lumping” Trimet drivers together when Case first lied about what happened.

    For all those upset with Trimet’s new rules, go to Trimet’s website and voice your opinion. Heck, even write commendations for AL. Maybe you can get him bus operator of the year. That would make a good consultation prize for him. It might get him the attention he won’t be getting anymore from his anymore. I will even post the link to make that much easier, http://trimet.org/

    Just remember, you can’s spell “Margulies” without lies.. just a thought.

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  • Shaun July 1, 2010 at 10:22 am

    mind the typing mistakes, I am too confused by why this is a big deal to type. This has gotten more media attention than a lot of fatalities.

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  • Oi! July 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    FINALLY! Trimet addresses a safety issue BEFORE people are killed. That is much better than waiting until after the fact.

    If you have already forgotten the Day massacre, than here are some reminders.

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2010/05/a_few_more_thoughts_on_trimet.html

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/05/trimet_bus_driver_cleared_in_f.html

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/05/9-1-1_calls_chaos_heartbreak_r.html

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  • Paul Tay July 3, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I LOVE AL!

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  • Carrie July 3, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    This is awesome! Is TriMet realizing it doesn’t need to wait until after people are killed to change a flawed policy?

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