The Inadequate Training and Unacceptable Behaviour of Para Transpo Drivers

Before I roll deep into this week’s article, I want to mention two shows I saw at the ​​Fringe Festival this past weekend.

Murder, She Read
It’s 1908, and there’s been a murder! Wyndergate Manor’s mystery novel-obsessed maid takes it upon herself to deduce who did the deadly deed after she decides that renowned detective Charles de Chevigné is a fraud.

How to Lose Friends and Irritate People
A rapid-fire surrealist comedy about living life on the autism spectrum. A champion of social awkwardness explains how NOT to deal with friends, family, strangers, animals, Americans, college, or confrontations.

(The description of these two shows was taken from the Ottawa Fringe Festival website.)

While both shows were great, I related more to the second one. As a self-diagnosed neurodivergent person, I understood a majority of the jokes and stories . . . . And also because I wasn’t around in 1908.

Rolling on now.

In last week’s article, I discussed climate change and how I recently got stuck in a downpour.

On Saturday, I found it to be windy and cold at times. Thankfully, I planned and booked Para Transpo in advance.

Here’s what happened:

My first ride of the day was at 1:00 p.m. Before heading to my lobby, I checked the Para Transpo website to see when it would arrive. No information was given, which is usually a bad sign. I still went downstairs and waited for it to arrive. I didn’t want to be accused of not being at the back door of my building when the bus showed up.

After waiting the mandatory thirty minutes, I called to see when, or IF my ride was coming.

The call operator told me that my ride would arrive in 10 minutes. It ended up showing up in five minutes, which is good. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

On my way home, I waited two hours for my ride to arrive,

Full disclosure: I realized after the fact that I typed the wrong address when I booked my rides online.

Para Transpo isn’t at fault for this.

But wait, there’s more!

Using Para Transpo on the weekend continues to be a problem for many.

In my experience, I usually get a new driver and sometimes a second new Para Transpo driver to take me home.

It’s clear to me that Para Transpo doesn’t train their drivers properly.

The following has occurred multiple times:

– Not knowing what door to go to, even though their screen shows the address and which doors to go to.
– Talking to my caregiver instead of me, the paying customer.
– Not knowing how to use their on-board tablet.
– Not knowing that I’m seatbelt-exempt. As far as I know, it says so on their screen.
– Drives dangerously fast, and gets road rage.
– Not paying attention to the road.
– Talking or texting on their phone while driving.
– Being rude to customers.
– Bad-mouthing other Para Transpo drivers and passengers.
– Not bothering to get out of the vehicle to locate us at the door.

Before anyone asks, I’ve filed numerous complaints with Para Transpo, my city councillor, and done multiple media interviews.

Nothing has changed.

So, I’d like to know what’s involved in the training and hiring process for new Para Transpo drivers. Why aren’t passengers invited to the training sessions? We could explain how to communicate better with customers, some of the main differences between our disabilities and those of other customers, and what aspects need to be improved in the training.

Who better to teach drivers how to interact with passengers than other passengers?

Furthermore, why do I need to suggest that? It makes perfect sense to me and should’ve been done years ago.

If Para Transpo drivers are trained correctly, it would save us time and decrease passenger risks. New drivers could also learn about our lived experience and our needs.

Again, it makes perfect sense to me unless, of course, Para Transpo has something to hide.

Until next week, stay safe and keep on rolling.