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Thoughts on TriMet and a personal message from ‘Al M’

Posted by on June 18th, 2010 at 9:36 am

If you haven’t been following along in the coverage and comments (nearly 300 of them) about TriMet in the last few days, let me try and bring you up to speed.

On Monday, I reported about a collision between a bike and a bus on Hawthorne. A guy on a bike claimed a bus came from behind him and squeezed him into a parked car. Coincidentally, I had just heard from two readers with complaints about TriMet bus operators. With all of this in mind, I published a story the next day outlining stories of three “aggressive TriMet bus operators” (note the new and improved headline).

Yesterday, TriMet released onboard video that showed the man riding his bike on Hawthorne was clearly at fault for the collision and it didn’t happen quite as he recalled initially.

In the comments of both stories I was accused of jumping to conclusions without the facts and of unfair reporting about TriMet operators. I heard the feedback, I acknowledged that I could have been a bit more careful with word choices, and I engaged in comments with people who were critical of my work.

Just to make it clear. I have never lumped all TriMet operators together, nor do I have any resentment of them personally. However, I remain concerned about how some operators behave around people on bikes and the policies and training that influence that behavior. That’s just my job, and until bus/bike interaction is as perfect as it can be, I’ll remain concerned about it.

Hopefully all my readers at TriMet understand where I’m coming from and will continue to visit this site with an open mind, knowing that my goal is to make things better, not rile up anger and divide us.

On that note, I wanted to give the last word to Al M. Al is a TriMet bus operator who authors the Rantings of a Bus Driver from Portland Oregon blog and who commented several times in the last few days. He made a video statement just for BikePortland.org, which I’ve embedded below:

Thanks Al, I don’t agree with everything you say, but I hear it and it informs my work going forward. Also, thanks to “trimet chick,” all my friends at TriMet, and everyone who has been involved in this discussion.

Whether you drive a bus, ride a bike, or publish a blog, it’s impossible to be perfect all the time. But if we can maintain a productive dialogue, be open to criticism, and then learn from it, things will get better.

Maybe I should host a TriMet-themed Get Together event so we can air all this stuff out face-to-face? Until then, see you on the streets.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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bahueh
Guest
bahueh

you should definitely host something like that and post the actualy results/dialogue of that discussion…
if there are things riders can do around buses to make both parties happier, I would love to hear it…Al’s rants don’t quite reach the level of constructive criticism….and if TriMet drivers can hear the concerns of bike commuters, it may help them do their job more safely…

as for the idiot on the bike…I’m guessing he still hasn’t learned any sort of lesson…and will probably continue to ride in such a way until his actions cause a more serious consequence…

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

As an ex messenger, I like to think I have spent much more time riding next to buses than most.

As a result of this, I can safely say that many bus drivers will and do drive aggressively around cyclists, instead of carefully.

I can also safely say that the situation of riding around a Tri Met bus has gotten worse, not better.

Sadly, it has appeared to me that this is more of a majority problem than a minority one.

Even the bus drivers themselves, (or at least a hundred of them) have admitted in writing that they cannot safely operate buses around cyclists.
this was shown in the petition circulated in regards to the Rose Quarter changes.

I cannot tell you the number of times that I have been run off the road, squeezed out of my lane, chased, honked and yelled at, etc. by irate bus drivers.
These things have happened while being 100% in the lane, and in the right.

Yet these drivers, when complained about, are protected by the union and Tri Met, and appear to be beyond reprimanding.

I have been told before that the videos match my story, and that riders complained about the same incident I was involved in.

Then to be told that I would hear no more about the incident to protect the driver.

I believe fully at this point that each driver should be publicly held accountable for each incident, as any of us would.

Tri Met has ruled our roads for too long. They over spend on new trains, while raising rates and cutting needed routes.

They protect known aggressive drivers, and keep them on the road.

While I do know that there are many good bus drivers out there, the fact is that it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.

Sadly, Tri Met has a few bushels of them….

Screw Tri met and the great White Horse(or train) they rode in on…

Shetha
Guest
Shetha

I think it’s interesting that both the person who works for trimet (al m?) and that people on bicycles *both* believe that this is a bad situation. I believe there is a hole here to be filled by the company (trimet) to 1) train the drivers so that they have better understanding of protocol and more confidence on the road and 2) advocate for their employees when it is needed, and enforce punishment when necessary. Any amount of discussion we get into here won’t help that happen – it will be up to leadership within the company.

Nipple
Guest
Nipple

Jesus Christ, Al. If you’re that busy eating while you’re driving, you’re right. There WILL be accidents.

Hang up the bun and talk.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Why does Trimet not release other videos when drivers are clearly in the wrong?

Carl
Guest
Carl

This video made me hungry.

Marcus Griffith
Guest
Marcus Griffith

Am I the only one who thinks operating a bus while giving an interview constitutes distracted driving?

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Big fan of the TriMet Get Together idea, but could we do a two-parter? One on sharing the road, and one on finding a stable, long-term funding mechanism for TriMet?

Vance Longwell
Guest

You’re a class-act Maus. I’ll give you that any day. This site, and the way it’s managed, is a gold-standard, plain and simple. Blogs are, in scope, all of the things the printing-press was combined with the pamphleteering movement of the later 18th century. This is virgin territory. I wish folks understood better the nads it takes to be out there doing the thing.

The temptation to succumb to demagoguery is enormous, right? And where does Mr. Maus reside? Within the constrained, and tight-confines of, trying to do the right darn thing. It’s so easy to write from the heart, and with passion. It’s so not easy to be objective, and intellectually honest. It’s not easy to just give opponents a voice. It’s not easy to deal with the inherent negativity rampant within all of this. And most especially, it’s not easy watching so-called friends and fans, ditch you at the tiniest perception of a non-mistake.

Vicious bastards.

It just ain’t as easy as it looks. Mr. Maus has fairly mastered his craft, and still quite young. I hate his message, but it’s earnest, and just. I’m proud to have him in our community and feel a tremendous pride from the fact he writes this blog here. It’s easily one of the widest-read blogs around, of any kind, and he’s gifted Portland with the honors.

Mr. Maus, despite a pile still steaming on the front-lawn, still gets it ‘righter’ than anybody, and Tri-Met bus operators, as a group, need an attitude adjustment. How does a ‘stranger’ in CYA-mode all of a sudden change all of this? Answer: It doesn’t.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

Marcus, no, I agree with you fully as well. Al M, didn’t watch more than the first 30 seconds of your video since you were too rude to even stop eating before trying to talk to us.

boneshaker
Guest
boneshaker

I always thought bikes & buses were more on the same side. We are both working to reduce the number of automobiles on the road, which, to me, more unites than divides us. Sure I’ve had my fair share of close calls with buses and tend to stay away from them as best I can. Just as with ever group of people there are some who play nicer with strangers than others. We have our fair share of cyclists who don’t play nice either, but by in large I think the TriMet bus operators are great drivers. I’d certainly prefer to ride near them than a garbage or yard debris truck.

Vance Longwell
Guest

Dabby #2- Hi! Couldn’t agree with you more. I rode down here for 15 years, buses and cabbies are a real problem; and have only gotten worse.

I have a different take on the ‘why’ though. One thing that never gets mentioned when we’re discussing how Tri-Met enforces policy, and reacts to complaints, is frivolous complaints.

Can you imagine? Everybody with the tiniest beef complains. Certainly, many lie. So, as a company, as an entity, how does Tri-Met filter out frivolous complaints from legitimate ones? There-in lies the rub, IMO.

See, I’m convinced Tri-Met just ignores people’s complaints, and this is supported by drivers only looking to protect their working conditions. They have every incentive to NOT respond to complaints. Add to this that, dare I say, most customer/citizen complaints prove to be false. Check out what JUST happened, right?

So, here we have incentive to ignore complaints, combined with the reality that most complaints are probably frivolous.

This doesn’t bode well for anybody interested in upsetting the status-quo. The union, and the bureaucracy, then work as fuel for the fire, in the flames of which, change burns to death. The result: Tri-Met can’t enforce serious policy ’cause of the union, and it’s in the driver’s best interest to keep calling the shots.

I love unions. I hate having to say it, but that union needs to burn. Or grow a conscience, which I won’t be holding my breath for. As a group, and in general, just look at Al M and his little gang for Pete’s sake, Tri-Met bus drivers are the worst! And that’s really saying something because our cabbies are horrible as well.

If driving a bus blows, feel free to find another job, right? I hate drug-testing. Have since day-one. I won’t work for anybody who does it. Do you have any idea what that does to my professional life? The snide advice I’m given is, “Don’t like it, work somewhere else.”, right? Which is unrealistic on the border of irrational, ’cause EVERYBODY drug-tests, right? I’ve made what you call a ‘sacrifice’ to live my principles.

Well, it’s the same kind o deal with any job. Don’t like it, find another one. This thing where you just bend, shape, and mold it, into something that suits you is selfish. See: I’m ready to sacrifice so the majority may have their little drug-tests. So, why can’t you get a new job, rather than hide behind the union, and offer up bad-service, and endanger the lives of, the very people whom pay your salary. Given of course that I’m right in my speculation about the source of the problem being a bad-attitude precipitated by crappy working conditions.

So, I’m serious when I say, “Don’t like driving buses, then find a new job.”. And I’m not even being snide, or facetious, either one. That’s a clunky point, logically, but it works out if you read it enough.

peejay
Guest
peejay

I agree that bikes and buses are (or should be) on the same side. We’re both invested in making our roads better serve PEOPLE, not the vested interests of several powerful industries.

Following from that logic, most drivers are on the same side as us, as well. They want what we want; they just can’t make the connection between their transit habits and the damage they cause. I was one of these drivers until just a few short years ago. I firmly believed in urban density, opposed suburban sprawl, and enjoyed only neighborhoods with actual street life, yet I drove almost everywhere. Once I stopped that habit, I realized what all that driving does, and how it worked against what I believed in.

For me, it took the personal experience of cycling to connect the dots. It took a sense of investment. So, yes, I believe that dialog — if ongoing and not a one-time event — could help bridge this divide we have between cyclists and bus drivers.

Please do this, Jonathan! (I realize how much you have on your plate, so maybe someone else could step up and organize.)

naomi
Guest
naomi

No way around it, the bus driver in the above video is spot on. The cyclist lied, and in the process some questionable verbiage was used in a headline on this website. Sometimes it’s bicyclists who have the lesson to be learned.

John
Guest
John

Good coverage of this issue. Just a reminder to everyone that when you see a bus do something wrong or right. Remember the bus number, general location and approx time. Then write Trimet about it.

While I haven’t written Trimet about any bad behavior, I have written them good comments about the drivers that have given me extra room, made sure I was clear of the lane before pulling over, etc.

Good comments to trimet are as good as bad comments as they can help trimet track their drivers.

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

I don’t normally like to judge people by appearance but this Al M needs to finish his breakfast, adjust his sunglasses against the blinding light of his computer screen, and get over himself. “You kicked sand in my face so I’m going to kick sand in your face.” Goodie. He looks old enough to be better than that.

Jonathan, I think you do an outstanding job with this blog. I also think that TriMet bus drivers have a VERY difficult job. Finally, I do think that cyclist is an idiot for lying.

It seems to me that both parties – Al M and the lying cyclist – are a bit too self-absorbed which contradicts what I think EVERYONE’S goal should be: Please remember that there are people on the road other than yourself. Be safe and be aware.

matt picio
Guest

Vance (#8) – I’m not sure it’s so much “Tri-Met drivers” who need an attitude adjustment as “people”. Sure, there are bad bus drivers, but there are also bad cyclists, bad cops, bad taxi drivers, wait staff, civil service minions, and that annoying skinny dude at the DMV.

The problem is we as a society have become a nation of over-priviliged spoiled individualists with no sense of community, decency, or consideration. Some might argue we always have been, and they might be right, or not. I believe that each person has a choice in any given situation to treat another human decently, or not. And frequently, we choose not to, and unfortunately we remember the negative interactions far longer than we do the positive ones.

Everyone – at some point in the next week, stop what you’re doing, and go do something you enjoy. Relax a little bit and try not to think about all the stuff burdening your life. After that, the next time you interact with someone, be decent to them. (use whatever YOUR opinion of “decent” is) Even if they’re being a jerk. Maybe if enough of us start being decent to people who we feel don’t deserve it, some of that will get passed forward to the next person.

Marcus Griffith
Guest
Marcus Griffith

In his “For BikePortland.org Revised” video, Allen Margulles, aka ‘Al M’; operator number #2387, conducts an interview for his personal blog while operating a Trimet bus in uniform and during his work shift (starts ~3:34 seconds into the video).

I could care less if Margulles wants to blur the line between voicing his personal opinion and acting as a spokesperson for Trimet. I do very much care that Margulles appears clueless to the inherent risks associated with distracted driving. The irony of him engaging in unsafe driving while ranting about how safe he is around cyclists is one more thing Margulless was too distracted to notice.

Adding to the steaming pile of irony is that recently Margulles was awarded a 14-year safe driving award and a few months ago attended (at Trimet’s expense) a defensive driving course.

At this point, I am vested in knowing how will Trimet respond to video tape evidence (or would it be an admission?) of one of its driver’s engaging in unsafe driving? Out of curiosity, I am intrigued about how Trimet will respond to Margullles self-appointed stats as a Trimet spokesperson.

For Future Reference:
Concerned member of the public can report compliments or concerns about Trimet operators via Trimet’s online system at http://trimet.org/mailforms/comments_employee

Or for more urgent matters, via phone, 503.238.7433.

Of course, direct feedback can be provided to Margulles at his email address: alyourpalster@gmail.com

Eric In Seattle
Guest
Eric In Seattle

it didn’t happen quite as he recalled initially.

Johnathan, that’s quite charitable of you. It’s probably good policy at this point to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I’ll point out here that this might even possibly be a criminal act (falsifying a police report).

AL M
Guest

I am following all Trimet regulations,

I AM NOT OPERATING ANY VIDEO OR AUDIO EQUIPMENT. Equipment is being operated by someone else.

I am just doing my job, no distracted driving involved.

What you see me doing in the video is what I do every single day on the job.

Chatting with riders, etc.

So get off your soap box and stop trying to make trouble for others.

Second of all I have said, over a thousand times, I do not represent Trimet.

I am a blogger, who blogs about transit, but local, national, and international.

Of course I have a special interest in local transit issues.

So your eagerness to have me “busted” is quite curious. I am a safe driver of 14 years, doing my job exactly as in the video’s. Camera on or not.

I guess you hate bus drivers, or maybe you just hate me, whatever, I can’t help how you feel.

Anyway Jonathan, I appreciate the post!

Adios to BikePortland.org, until the next time!

🙂

ps: I was having dinner!

AL M
Guest

B801 Bus Operating Rules

5. No audio or video device of any kind including headsets, wireless earpieces, and cellular phones, shall ever be used or visible while you are in the driver’s seat
———————————-

The video device is not in my possession at all which means I am following all the rules.

If they want to change the rules too:

“NO PASSENGER MAY VIDEO OR AUDIO TAPE AN OPERATOR IN SERVICE”

then we can re-visit this discussion.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Is it time for some enforcement actions against UNSAFE cyclists?

In the last couple of months, I have seen a spike in the number of unsafe acts by bicyclists. If I had not reacted quickly, I might have hit two different bicyclists who decided to pass another bike and suddenly moved into the traffic lane without first checking for oncoming cars. And there was another cyclist who started to turn left and then abruptly changed direction to turn right.

The number of bad riders seems to be increasing. While I do not ride downtown or the other bus heavy streets, I have not witnessed bus drivers getting worse. Given my recent observations of numerous cyclists making sudden lane changes without checking for traffic, it is entirely logical that Tri met drivers want as much distance from cyclists as possible. The Trimet drivers are worried about a cyclist making a sudden move in front of them.

I suspect that increased enforcement against UNSAFE bike riders (primarily bike riders who make sudden moves without checking for others who have the right of way) would reduce bike-motor vehicle, bike-pedestrian, and bike-bike accidents by a significant amount. While I am sure that some cyclists would be upset by this, a ticket is better than being killed.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Also, the unsafe riders are creating negative perceptions of bikes, so reigning in unsafe riders helps maintain public support for bicycling.

Amber Red
Guest
Amber Red

Al M: In the video you keep turning your head to look at the camera so yeah, you are being distracted while driving a bus.
What you say in a Trimet’s uniform, in a Trimet bus while on Trimet’s clock easily comes off as speaking on behalf of Trimet.

When you are in the driver’s seat, you are paid to drive the bus, not make podcasts.

Josh Collins
Guest
Josh Collins

Jonathan,

Re: “I remain concerned about how some operators behave around people on bikes and the policies and training that influence that behavior.”

I’m not sure that you’ve had the benefit of seeing our training programs or policies. I invite you to come in and sit with our bus training manager and me to look at our training materials and procedures specific to operating around bicyclists. We’d welcome your feedback, and I believe it would be helpful for your readers if you understood exactly how TriMet deals with the topic.

Contact me if you are interested.

Josh Collins
TriMet Operations
collinsj@trimet.org

anthony
Guest
anthony

Tom, I have a sneaking suspicion that the “spike in the number of unsafe acts by bicyclists” is actually just a spike in the number of people riding their bikes. In addition to the overall increase in people choosing to ride bikes rather than use other forms of transportation, more specifically the weather has recently gotten nicer. To top it all off, it’s pedalpalooza, so there are more cyclists on rides, or coming from or going to rides, or even just engaging in the spirit of the thing and riding their bike more right now. With more cyclists on the road, their will be more unsafe cyclists on the road. It would be very surprising to me if there was somehow a spike ONLY in unsafe cyclists, rather than both safe AND unsafe cyclists (and even cyclists who are sometimes safe and sometimes not, because let’s face it, even some of us who consider ourselves safe do stupid things every once in a while).

And unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much anyone can do about unsafe cyclists. There is more enforcement of the law with regard to cars, and yet, drivers do stupid things all of the time anyway. I think my point is, while I agree that enforcement IS a good thing, and better education for newer/less experienced cyclists would be a good idea as well, I think it would only do so much. As long as there are people who make poor or ignorant decisions, there will be cyclists, drivers, bus drivers, pedestrians, rickshaw drivers, etc. who make poor or ignorant decisions.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

Josh (#25) do TriMet training programs encourage their drivers to produce pod-casts during their works shifts and distract themselves while eating? where does it fall with cell phone use and texting? all in the same category?

BURR
Guest
BURR

I’d take with a large grain of salt any claims by motorists of unsafe cycling, because most motorists really don’t know the law as it applies to cyclists and are more than willing to believe, for example, that a cyclist legally taking the lane under ORS 814.430(2)(c) is practicing ‘unsafe cycling’.

Barney
Guest
Barney

We all come to BikePortland to get information. A lot of us come every day. Perhaps some come just to hang out in the comments section, but it would seem most come for the news first. If BikePortland was not a quality resource, we would stop coming. Al M would still be here, but everyone else would get our bike news elsewhere.

The criticism Jonathan has gotten about this is excessive. I understand it sucks to be part of a group that gets criticized, especially if the criticism seems premature. But you know what, Trimet Bus Drivers? It only takes one of you to almost kill me for me to be extremely skeptical of the entire organization. That’s not some sort of messed-up prejudice, it’s self-preservation. There is DAILY evidence on the streets that there are aggressive busdrivers out there, so it’s really not a big deal that Jonathan called a few drivers aggressive.

Journalism is not impartial. It is informed by the experiences of the person telling the story. That’s why I like BikePortland, because Jonathan tells stories like a cyclist who rides in the same city I do. He is also an extremely generous reporter, as evidenced by this post. He could be defiant and never consider how to do things better, but instead he constantly endeavors to improve the quality of the site, which can result in indulging the loudest complainers.

He clearly wants to improve the conditions of cycling in Portland, and does more to accomplish that than all of us whiners on the message boards put together. Accountability is important, and it’s good that people write in to be critical when it’s necessary. But like I said, the criticism of this issue is over the top and excessive. So do him a favor and cut him some slack. Stop trying to ruin his weekend and let him do his job. It would be a shame if the quality of BikePortland worsened because instead of reporting, Jonathan had to spend all his time responding to the haters.

mike
Guest
mike

Burr, you are way off base. It is not hard to tell the difference between an unsafe cylist and one that gives a crap about people around them. If you want respect, follow the damn rules. If it is dark and you don’t have any lights, wear dark clothing, etc. it doesn’t matter if you are “taking the lane” you are still an idiot that needs to get off the road!!!!

Steve B.
Guest

I would welcome a forum that brings bus drivers, trimet decisionmakers, and active transportationists together.

q'Tzal
Guest
q'Tzal

#25 Josh Collins
When I was active duty military we had this policy foisted upon us: when confronted on any matters that related to the military, its operations and policies refer that person to your Public Affairs department. We were instructed not to make any public statements while in uniform unless authorized to do so.
Al M has repeatedly stated that he is not representing Trimet but acts as if he is and people treat him as if he does represent Trimet. His demagoguery continues to pour gasoline on a fire rational people like Jonathan and yourself have been trying to put out.
Perhaps Trimet should look in to instituting this sort of policy.
As always thank you communicating with us in an OFFICIAL capacity.

BURR
Guest
BURR

Mike #30 I ride with lights but there is no law saying what color clothes I must wear when I’m riding; and you certainly haven’t demonstrated that you know squat about the law as it applies to cyclists, it sounds to me like you’re one of those ‘I own this road’ motorists who thinks that cyclists should all be cowering in the gutter, riding on the sidewalk or on ‘some other road’.

joel
Guest

Maybe I should host a TriMet-themed Get Together event so we can air all this stuff out face-to-face?

absolutely. from personal experience, talking with bus drivers face-to-face in an off-the-street setting has been one of the most useful tools i have had in my years dealing with them as a cyclist on the road.

and, as a current portland bike messenger, i would like to say that over the last 5 years here, my experiences with trimet drivers have been basically the exact opposite of dabbys. i really havent had any problem with them at all – but then, i have the advantage of having sat down at the table with muni/twu in san francisco for monthly meetings over the course of several years while i was working as a messenger there, and i daresay im probably a bit more understanding and observant of buses and their drivers than most, even those with as much traffic time as myself.

mike
Guest
mike

Uh Burr, I do ride a bike but I am also fortunate to own a car. Unlike you, I am able to see both sides clearly. In fact, I am commuting from work tonight and plan on being a rule following, courteous cyclist. Can you say the same for yourself?

anthony
Guest
anthony

mike and Burr, the incendiary tone does nothing to further the dialogue, and only serves to divide. we’re on the same side, no? so why are we fighting with each other?

trimet chick
Guest
trimet chick

Did a little research this morning and found out that Trimet actually has an inhouse BICYCLE ADVOCATE for the community.

Colin Maher
maherc@trimet.org
503-962-5854

Problems, complaints, kudos, pony’s whatever. Give him a call or e-mail.

Bruce
Guest
Bruce

Marcus (#18) was spot on. It is not safe to drive a bus on a busy road while making a personal podcast.

Trimet needs to deal with Al M’s video recorded stupidity quickly. If they don’t, I am sure lawyers in future lawsuits will reference this matter as proof that Trimet is negligent in dealing with unsafe drivers.

Jerry_W
Guest
Jerry_W

Al M said the same thing over and over, he said in 4 minutes what should have taken 30 seconds. Didn’t your Mother teach you any manners Al M??? If I was to eat and try to talk to someone on a video, my Mom would track me down and whip my ass! That was a pretty rude display, and if nothing else distracted from the message that you repeated over and over.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

#27 bahueh: Our policies are specific about using electronic devices while operating a vehicle. Admittedly, we do not have a policy that explicitly addresses an employee being interviewed while driving and the potential for distraction that may be caused. Operators have to engage in conversation with customers routinely, informing them of what stops are coming, bus line transfers, directions and various other things. So that issue is not as cut and dry as prohibiting using a cell phone or holding a video camera.

#32 q’Tzal: TriMet does have a blogging policy, and generally, Al follows it. So do a number of other employees who are active on blogs or twitter, and talk routinely about their experiences at TriMet. We support the free speech of our employees, even if they are questioning our decisions and policies—as long as they are clear that they are representing their opinion and not that of the agency. Your experiences in active service are much like my experiences in other government agencies, which predate the proliferation of blogs and social media. Governmental organizations, just like private corporations, have had to adapt and decide how the traditional “spokesperson” model can exist in a world with employees who blog. It’s tricky business for sure. In order to allow for conversation to happen, most organizations are having to become more comfortable with less control.

Josh Collins
TriMet Operations

MIndful Cyclist
Guest
MIndful Cyclist

I won’t argue whether or not Al is distracted or not. That is up for interpretation. I would like to know this: Is everyone on that bus aware that there is a video recorder going? Because I think it is very fair that people know that. Whenever I have gone to volunteer at the CCC and there are going to be cameras present, we are told that they are present and to let the coordinator know that no pictures of them are to be taken.

While there is no law that prevents someone from taking a picture, I think people have a certain right to privacy. Just hope you don’t get a good shot of someone that finally got out of an abusive relationship and said abuser finds out what bus he or she takes.

Vantuky Pride
Guest
Vantuky Pride

This is not Al M’s first video made while on the trimet clock. Going through Al M’s blog history shows tons of similar videos where he is driving a trimet bus while making podcasts. Guess he has no regards for public safety or actually getting work done.

If I used my company work time to make a personal video, I’d get fired after the first time. Why is Trimet letting me keep doing it?

Alex
Guest
Alex

Contained in Al M’s video archieves are inapprirote videos of trimet passengers. Al M himself, or one of his podcast crew, likes the zoom lens waaaaay too much. Look up the early 2010 and summer 2009 videos.

rantingsofatrimetbusdriver.blogspot.com

So what is trimet policey about employees making inappriote videos of unsusecpting passengers? Looks like Al M is multiple front liability for Trimet.

Marcus Griffith
Guest
Marcus Griffith

I am all for a meeting to discuss Trimet’s efforts to ensure safety, but as a person who has been singled out for slander and retaliation by a Trimet employee, can we address the concerns with that now infamous employee first as a sign of good faith?

Issues at hand with Allen Margulles, aka Al M, author of “rantings of a Trimet bus driver” website:

1) Safety concerns with distracted driving due to filming podcast while driving a bus on multiple occasions.

2) His self-appointed status as a Trimet spokesperson.

3) His disregard for Trimet filming rules ( located at http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/?c=49431&a=304926 ).

4) His unprofessional comments about the general public, his insults and accusations against Trimet General Manager Fred Hansen etc

5) His public service ethics violations. After all, he is an employee of a public agency using his work time and equipment for his personal use.

6)His documented history of his blog running amuck of Trimet’s polices in the past and his seemingly inability to correct his ongoing errors. Also includes Trimet’s apparent inability or unwillingness to rein in a rouge employee and unsafe driver.

Any more I am missing?

Vance Longwell
Guest

matt picio #17 – I appreciate the sentiment, I really do, and I think the position that it’s more an issue of human-nature has merit, but…

Consider. I can observe a distinctly different pattern of driving ‘behavior’ engaged in by Tri-Met bus-drivers, than other humans exhibit. This behavior is observably different, even, from that of other commercially licensed vehicle operators. So, I believe these behaviors transcend mode. The counter point being, of course, that human-nature dictates these observable differences, and mode is then relevant.

I just disagree, is all.

Moreover, Tri-Met drivers get paid to operate their vehicles. This is the very definition of professional, right? And, in my opinion, professional drivers operate under a different onus than the rest of us. So, if human-nature were indeed our culprit, it shouldn’t be. Given that personal-transportation operators aren’t constrained by issues of professional conduct, then we again have a case where Tri-Met bus operators’ behavior is observably unique.

Either way, human-nature, or a condition inherent in Tri-met bus operation, I believe it’s fairly safe to say that Tri-Met bus drivers follow a predictable pattern of behavior that is quite distinct from ‘the rest of us’.

At which point my only question would be, “Why?”. If the common-thread were human nature we’d observe these behaviors in others, right? Alas, when we do, it’s usually an exception to the rule, as it were, and not an endemic, or pervasive, behavior. Since there’s an observably higher incidence of poor behavior among Tri-Met drivers I can only conclude that Tri-Met drivers are, in fact, more likely to exhibit poor driving behavior.

Duly noted and all. But the underlying make-up of our control group is simply too distinct to ignore. The combination of relatively low-wages, union representation, special infrastructure, and a giant-sized Class-A vehicle, apparently turn ‘human-nature’ on it’s ear; and ultimately seems to be acting only as a catalyst for douchebaggery.

In my opinion of course.

Josh Collins
Guest
Josh Collins

Customers and other TriMet employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy. I think it is fair to say that there are gaps in the policy when it comes to other people (non employees) filming and then providing that content to an employee for use. That will be addressed.

Because there have been conduct questions here that we are obligated to follow up on as an employer, I will not be able to comment further on a specific employee’s conduct except to say that it is being investigated internally.

Josh Collins
TriMet Operations

CommanderZ
Guest
CommanderZ

First, Jonathon is a special gift to the Portland bike community: an advocate, but clear-thinking and honest. Buses freak me out when I’m riding, walking or driving. They serve a vital role in the transportation mix, but they are big, and potentially deadly. Driving a bus has to be an incredibly hard job. I want to live a long and healthy life. So I give them a wide berth no matter what means of travel I’m using. Anyone who takes excessive risks in a deadly serious situation like the incident on Hawthorne is foolish, and eventually their luck will run out. It’s curious why many people choose to ride unsafely, and/or not wear helmets, nor use lights, mirrors and reflective gear. Responsibility for one’s own safety and well-being should be more important than trying to take on TriMet, and point fingers at bus drivers. Yes, bus drivers have a responsibility to do their jobs safely, courteously and professionally. Some don’t. But, it’s like walking into a crosswalk without looking both ways; legally you can do it, but wouldn’t staying alive be more important than proving a point?

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

“Because there have been conduct questions here that we are obligated to follow up on as an employer, I will not be able to comment further on a specific employee’s conduct except to say that it is being investigated internally.”

This is exactly what we have been hearing for years………

This is exactly what makes many suspect of the workings of Tri Met…..

Joel and I do have a difference of opinion on the matter, but we also have different time frames of working on the streets of this town.

He is very smart, so I believe his opinion on the “recent” bus matters could be a bit more perceptive than mine….

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Also:
“Customers and other TriMet employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Many “customers” are very quick to be shown, in videos released by Tri Met, to be caught in wrong doing, or having a complaint filed against them, and the process of investigation and punishment seems to be quite public.

However, when it is a driver, and a complaint is filed, it immediately becomes a private matter.

This is especially disheartening when complaints might involve a huge vehicle being used improperly.

Can the Citizen’s Citation Initiative be used against a Tri Met driver?

Marcus Griffith
Guest
Marcus Griffith

After been set to “private” Al M’s ranting of a Trimet bus driver blog is now open to the public again. Many of the alleged videos can’t not be found on the site anymore (did they exists or were they removed?). Anyways, Al M’s has now added to his list of attacks on his critics.

I suspect he subscribes to the skunk theory–make a big enough stink and people will leave you alone no matter what you do. It seems to have worked for him so far.