Thursday, June 21, 2007

BUSTED! Hypocrisy thrives at VIVA & YRT

VIVA Driver smoking at Finch Station
Last Saturday I spent the day in Toronto at the Taste of Little Italy and wandering around Toronto's Harbourfront.

I took the TTC Subway northbound to the end of the line at Finch Station. I surfaced to board the VIVA Blue rapid transit in order to make my way back north to Aurora.

I boarded the bus and sat down. I noticed the driver was not on the bus but was outside reading a newspaper. In onehand was a newspaper and in the other was a lit cigarette. I quickly took out my digital camera and zoomed in on the driver holding the newspaper (see picture). I was hoping to get a picture taking a puff but it didn't materialize and the time the bus was going to leave was fast approaching. So I took the picture found in this post.

Why was I taking the picture? The driver was standing near a lamp post with a bright yellow GO Transit "No Smoking on the platforms" sign.

As well, recently York Region Transit (YRT) posted on their website:

A Smoke-Free YRT/VIVA

We would like to remind everyone that smoking is prohibited on all York Region Transit/Viva properties, including vehicles, shelters, bus stops, platforms, terminals and any other pedestrian areas. Smoking on the transit system or at a transit facility carries a fine of $150. Beginning in June, Transit Enforcement officers will be enforcing Section 3.21 of By-law R-1415-2005-028 throughout the YRT/Viva system to keep our services smoke-free.

Thank you for respecting the health and comfort of all YRT/Viva passengers, contractors, and employees.

For more information, please see Regional Municipality of York By-Law No. R-1415-2005-028 available on the
Transit Enforcement page.

So here the driver was, standing next to a No Smoking sign saying smoking is prohibited on the bus platforms under the Greater Toronto Transit Authority (GTTA) By-law. Also, the driver is flagrently violating her own transit agency's (YRT's) own By-laws and policies which prohibit smoking on all terminal platforms.

I easily had all the basis covered in terms of the smoking violation being totally obvious to anyone standing in the same spot as the driver. 1. GO Transit (under the GTTA) prohibits smoking at this terminal. 2. YRT/VIVA prohibits smoking at all terminals as well.

So what is the driver thinking? What does this show YRT/VIVA customers in terms of the willingness of YRT/VIVA employees to follow the rules? The answer to the first question I couldn't figure out. The answer to the second question is obvious as YRT/VIVA has banned smoking at all terminals since VIVA's inception. Now this ban has been a farce considering I've seen VIVA drivers smoking at the Newmarket Terminal, Richmond Hill Centre Terminal, and Finch Station numerous times. Further, I've even witnessed a VIVA Supervisor standing next to a VIVA driver while both were smoking at Richmond Hill Centre!!!!

So when I got home on Saturday, I sent the following e-mail to a YRT Transit Inspector that I have dealt with in the past:

On Saturday July 16th at 5:38 P.M. I boarded a northbound VIVA Blue bus (Bus number 5217) at Finch Station. The brown haired female driver was just the other side of the canopy (close to the terminal wall) reading her newspaper and smoking a cigarette.

Also, I've learned from my previous experience in trying to have action taken in terms of VIVA driver conduct, I have included in this e-mail further evidence. The previous experience I'm referring to was earlier this year when a VIVA Orange Driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the Downsview Station stop on the north side of Sheppard Avenue. This experience resulted in the VIVA driver in question claiming he had his seatbelt on and no further action being taken by VIVA as reported by yourself in your phone conversation to me. In this conversation I got the idea that really a complaint needed valid evidence. So, learning from this experience I've attached a photo I took with my digital camera at Finch Station.

The attached photo shows the driver in question reading a Toronto Sun newspaper in her right hand and a lit cigarette in her left hand. Please note the benches behind her and the reflection in the window above of the VIVA Blue bus I was on. This shows she was in fact in on the Finch Station Platform.

This photo shows the driver is in contravention of this posting on the YRT website (see: ):

"We would like to remind everyone that smoking is prohibited on all York Region Transit/Viva properties, including vehicles, shelters, bus stops, platforms, terminals and any other pedestrian areas. Smoking on the transit system or at a transit facility carries a fine of $150. Beginning in June, Transit Enforcement officers will be enforcing Section 3.21 of By-law R-1415-2005-028 throughout the YRT/Viva system to keep our services smoke-free."

As well as the No Smoking By-law of the GO Transit (GTTA By-law 2 section 89 posted here: ) which, as per the by-law, the no smoking signs are indicated on the platforms with large bright yellow plastic signs as well as white circular stickers.

With this above picture showing the evidence this particular driver has contravened the policy of YRT/VIVA (only a policy as this occurance took place in the City of Toronto) as well as the By-Laws of the GTTA which are in effect on GO Property (which Finch Station is), please ensure this matter is corrected.

I await your response in terms of the YRT/Viva's response to the above noted matter.
Also, please be advised this is not the first occurrence of a VIVA driver or supervisor I have seen contravening the YRT/VIVA By-Law at Finch Terminal, Richmond Hill Centre, or Newmarket Terminal. I trust YRT/VIVA will be ensuring its own employees face the same penalties under the Region of York's by-laws. Otherwise, I find it pretty hypocritical of YRT/VIVA in telling customers, in bold letters, on YRT's website that: "smoking is prohibited on all York Region Transit/Viva properties" and indicating there is a $150 fine and then agency will then do nothing when one of VIVA's own employees is caught in contravention.

Thanks in advance for your assistance in this matter.


Michael Suddard

First some notes: In reference to the VIVA Orange incident, I witnessed the driver not wearing his seatbelt and running the red light at the intersection of Allen Road & Sheppard Avenue West. I reported it to the same YRT Transit Inspector. The response from the Transit Inspector was that the VIVA Driver totally denied he ran the red light or was not wearing his seatbelt. There was nothing the Transit Inspector could do. Thus, I was sure to get to not repeat this in reporting the 'smoking driver'.

On Wednesday night I received a phone call back from the YRT Transit Inspector I sent the e-mail to. The Inspector thanked me for sending an e-mail drawing his attention to the situation. He said he forwarded my e-mail, minus my name, to the VEOLIA Driver's supervsisor. VEOLIA is the private consortium who operates the VIVA system on behalf of the Region of York.

The VEOLIA Supervisor had a meeting with the driver, Andrea on the issue presenting the e-mail. Andrea responded, according to the YRT Transit Inspector, that she "may have been smoking on the platform." The VEOLIA Supervisor then showed her the picture. The Supervisor said this was picture shows she blatently was smoking. The driver had the complaint and picture filed in her personal file according to the YRT Transit Inspector. The driver was also warned that she had blatently broken the law as well as YRT and VIVA policy.

The YRT Transit inspector was impressed with my research and presentation of the evidence. Also, he said this was on of the fastest responses that he has received from VEOLIA Management in response to a YRT/VIVA customer complaint against one VEOLIA's drivers. Usually, the YRT Transit Inspector pointed out, VEOLIA usually takes a full week to respond to driver complaints. Why a week? That is what the contract between YRT and VEOLIA states the complaints have to be addressed. In the this case the YRT Transit Inspector launched the investigation on Monday after receiving my e-mail. He had a response on Wednesday and contacted me Wednesday night. This response time also impressed me because, as we all know, government operations usually take forever to address questions and concerns of customers/taxpayers.

Further, the YRT Transit Inspector said he was quite impressed with my work on this issue. He said the picture was quite clear. I pointed out it was obvious she was on the platform in the picture as you can see the advertising on the platform (poster behind the driver), the bench (back right of the driver) and the reflection of the bus in the terminal window. The Transit Inspector said he knows that advertisement well as it is just outside the VIVA Blue bus spot at the Terminal and around just outside the bathroom entrance for the bus drivers.

Just before we hung up, the YRT Transit Inspector thanked me again for the good work on this issue and said to feel free to contact him again, especially in incidents like this.

Last night, I went to bed feeling I finally had improved the lives of fellow York Region Transit and VIVA passengers by forcing YRT and VIVA to own up to their own hypocrisy. Because, as we all know, "Do as I say and not as I do" doesn't provide good optics most of the time.


  1. Are you the passenger from hell? (smile)

  2. Perhaps Andy...Perhaps :)

    I'm just looking for some consistancy. Is that too much to ask? :)

  3. Andy I share the sentiments Mike states in his complaint, but I understand the drivers point of view. The bad thing is when we see a driver cut a corner, race a light,smoke on the platform, drive over a curb or even not signal a lane change we don't think we are seeing the 10% bad apples.
    Maybe if there are people like Mike out there taking photo's the good drivers (like yourself I'm assuming) won't have to take the rap for the idiots. (ps. BTW nice photography Blog)

    That said knowing my buddy Mike AKA The fainting Groomsman from My wedding, he is more liklely to give you the benefit of the doubt on most things.

    So mike you now have two nick names the fainting groomsman and the passenger from Hell. :-)

  4. Andy, I have know problem handing out kudos to drivers who go the extra mile.

    If I happen to be getting off the front door I will say thanks to the driver if they are on time or slightly early.

    However, when YRT/VIVA post on their website as well post large signs saying NO SMOKING ON THE PLATFORMS, then have a VIVA driver in full uniform (see picture in original post) right near the signs, then I find it a little hypocritical. The sidewalk (i.e. outside the terminal) is less than ten metres away. She could have easily gone out the sidewalk next to Yonge Street an puffed a way. When YRT/VIVA is threatening $150.00 fines to passengers as their website states, then they should fine their own drivers for the same thing. That would be fair, and fairness is all I was looking for in this situation.

  5. I want to complain to to viva about a driiving infraction. Driver signalled to stop, almost to a complete stop and i pulled ahead. he then accelerated and cut me off. illegal or legal.

    the links you are showing are all redirected. guess they don't want people finding the info.

  6. woooowwww you would not believe what happened on Sat Dec 10, 2011
    The 3:08 bus finally dragged it's ass at the Jefferson Side road and bathurst stop at 3;33. Passengers were freezing in the -10 cold. When the driver got questioned again and again by different passengers at diffrent stops she started yelling at them.. Thanks Canada where are the human rights?


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