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Friday fun post: do you usually talk to your transit operator?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to answer the chatting with your operator poll.

Last week: ever been the only one on a transit vehicle?

Last week’s fun post asked if you had ever been the only one on your transit vehicle, besides the operator.

We had 194 people weigh in, and the vast majority (91%) said they had been the only one on a transit vehicle before. Just 9% said it had never happened to them.

There were a great many comments on this one! Most seemed to show that you end up riding alone if you travelled very late or early, or to not-very-busy destinations, or on new routes that were building ridership. For example, here’s typoprone:

When I took summer school at UBC a couple of summers ago, I often rode an empty 480 to campus and pretended the bus was my limousine and the bus driver was my chauffeur. Ah, memories…

And Steven had a cautionary tale from outside our region:

In Budapest we got on a subway and we were all alone on it. The next thing we new it was going into the sidings – it was there for 10 minutes and thought we would be there overnight!! Luckily the train did go back the other way. Since then whenever I have been on my own on public transport I get the feeling I am going the wrong way!

Many people also mentioned the challenge of deciding whether to talk to the operator or not. Sally was in favour:

If that happens, I feel like I should move up to keep the operator company!

Last 351 was more torn:

Sometimes it’s a tough call whether to strike up a conversation or not. In those cases I figure it’s the driver’s choice to break the silence since they’re the one stuck there!

Dora had another view:

When I’m the only one on the bus I usually feel really awkward, and go sit in the back half of the bus and read my book rather than striking up a conversation with the driver… Sometimes when my stop is coming up I’ll walk up front and just let the driver know, instead of ringing the bell, though.

And Cliff had another take on the situation:

The most awkward thing about being the only one on the bus is letting the driver know when you want to get off.

If it’s after 9:30pm and I’m the only one on the bus, I’ll use that and ask the driver if he wouldn’t mind dropping me off somewhere specific (Request Stop). That opens up the conversation and there’s no awkwardness of stopping a conversation to say “That’s my stop, bye!”

It was a hard time choosing just a few quotes to spotlight — however, as always, you can check out the full list of comments to see what everyone said!

This week: do you usually talk to your transit operator?

Since the last poll involved so many comments about chatting with operators, I thought that would make a good poll for this week.

I have to say I don’t usually talk to the operator. But operators out there: want to tell us if you like it when passengers strike up a conversation? Are you more likely to stop for them if you see them running :) It would be nice to hear your side of the story!


  • By Sally, December 11, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

    Last winter on the 351, the driver packed everyone in so no one was left behind. I ended up holding onto the fare box. When we stopped at Matthews Exchange, I said to him “OK, my turn to drive now!” But he wouldn’t let me!

  • By Tsushima Masaki, December 11, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

    I don’t usually get into lengthy conversations with bus operators but I say hi and thanks when boarding and getting off.

    I’m usually more likely to start a conversation if, say the operator noticed me running after his bus and waited for me and if he gives off a friendly vibe. It’s definitely easier if he says something first.

    The last time I hit it off with an operator was this October or November on a 401 One Road. I don’t know what’s up with the street lights on my part of Five Road but they’re usually not working so that forces me to wave either my iPod or my cell phone in the air when I see a bus coming.

    When I got on the bus the operator was very nice, he thanked me for making myself more visible and we started talking all the way to Richmond-Brighouse Station.

    When I used to use the 351 and 601 routes there were a number of operators there that were easy to talk to.

  • By ;-), December 11, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

    I love the opportunity to start conversations with strangers every chance I get. I find drivers to be generally friendly and it’s an opportunity for driver/passengers to share issues (traffic? why a bus was delayed?) in a healthy way.

    However I always wonder when chatting with operators is it “appropriate” comparing to the cellphone driving controversy. Would my driver be distracted? Am I endangering others on the bus? I believe in Hong Kong, they have signs stating it’s illegal to hold conversations with drivers. I guess it’s far safer for me to hold my transit conversations here on this blog with my Blackberry.

    One frustration I have is drivers talking to another non-working driver next to him. Those low-floor buses leave very little clearance to walk past, especially if someone is supervising a large item stored on top of the wheel well or a cyclist watching their bike on the front rack.

    One thing about drivers is they are a “captive audience”…. unlike Canada Line or Skytrain staff. Once the train comes, you get on while the staff are continuing to cover their station and check for passes.

  • By Brandon, December 11, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

    As a transit operator, I always enjoy talking to my passengers when the chance arises. Some like to talk about the service, some like to ask about the bus itself and some just like to tell a story. If I find that I am getting to distracted at a certain time, I will just nicely let the person know that I need to concentrate on the driving and they appreciate that. I also find it amazing how much the public know about the workings of transit.

  • By Philippe G, December 11, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

    The only thing I ever really say is a “thank you” when I head out the back door. Which apparently is a Vancouver thing to do: whenever I take the bus in Victoria, Ottawa or Toronto, I’m always met with snickers from my local friends. What’s up with that!?

  • By Steven, December 12, 2009 @ 8:48 am

    Just some pleasantries on the way in and out as I am used to more British rules. On many buses in the UK there is a sign not to interrupt the driver while driving as it could distract them for doing their job i.e. concentrating on the road and looking after passenger health & safety. I get a bit nervous when some people have prolonged conversations with drivers while they are driving, I guess that is a cultural thing within me!!

  • By Scott, December 12, 2009 @ 10:56 am

    At night sometimes I will talk to the driver because it is slower and most trips that I take the drivers recognize me because I am on their bus often

  • By daniel, December 12, 2009 @ 10:29 pm

    i always talk to the transit operator whenever i board his or her bus. usually i start out saying hi or hows it going, or whatever comes to mind.the driver is usually amazed about how much i kno about buses and transit systems. so i pretty much make the operator feel appreciated for his or her’s hard work.

  • By Andrew S, December 12, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

    I usually say hi and thanks (if I’m leaving through the front door), but I don’t like those drivers who don’t look at you or say hi or anything, even if you ask them to for a different fare. The chance of me talking to those drivers is more like 0/5…

  • By Sean, December 13, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

    I ride an average of 15 bus trips a week and my goal is to make at least one of them laugh at some point in my trip. Having said that I rarely strike up arbitrary conversation and seldom sit on the front half of the bus, which makes my task more difficult but usually can crack a smile with my one-liners.

  • By Ric, December 13, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

    I usually talk to the transit operator when I have the chance. I use the community shuttle routes a lot especially the C94 and the C96. The C94 is often empty when I take it and that is when I have the chance to talk to the operator. The operator often even asks me how I know so much information about the transit system. I told them that I have a friend that works at the Richmond Transit Center as a maintenance person and they give me lots of information about the transit system, and help me get answers to some of the questions I have.

  • By mike, December 13, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

    Hey Jhen, is that you riding a bicycle on the front page of translink’s website?

  • By Ivan, December 14, 2009 @ 10:05 am

    When I bus’ed to UBC in the early 2000 years, I always liked to talk to Transit Operators and learn more about the bus system and technologies.

    However nowadays, I realized that is not a right thing to do because talking to a operator while driving is a distraction to their duties and can create a safety issue. My advice to all is not to talk to a transit operator unless it is short and important.

  • By zack, December 14, 2009 @ 11:04 am

    OMG!! The photo looks exactly like you Jhen! :)

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, December 14, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

    Yes, that’s me on the bike :)

  • By CJ Stebbing, December 18, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

    AT LAST! Something I can talk about for a few hours on end! Sadly, I’m using my phone for this, so ill keep it short.

    For me, the conventional buses are harder to strike up a converstion with the driver. They’re usually crowded, or other CMBC employee’s are standing near the driver and chit chatting. Sometimes I try to get involved, but it usually doesn’t work. But I’m fine with that.

    The only exception I have with these buses are the Highway coaches that run from the RMD depot to White Rock, Surrey and Tsawwassen (sorry if I spell that wrong). There are seats that are right next to the driver, which is way more easier than yelling from the other end of a 40 Footer (or 60 for the artic. fans)

    The best ones to talk to your driver on are the community shuttles. Ur close enough to the driver that u can have a decent converstion with.

    And believe me. Its a good thing to talk to ur drivers. I remember when the comm shuttles first rolled out into White Rock. All the drivers were super friendly and nice to talk to. You get to know a lot from the drivers, and know a lot of the inner workings of translink.(Hence my knowledge of the system. Wouldn’t have known without those guys.). While most of the original 12 have gone on to other endevors (Head office, and conventional). Some remain on the comm shuttles like Sue and Dave. Their friendliness and attitude is what makes me like the system the most. There’s mike, who currently runs out of RMD doing conventional, that sometimes comes into my work when he has time. And there’s two other ladies that used to run out here, but their names escape me…so sorry ladies if u read this.

    Anyway, I’m probably typing too much, but I just wanted to say if u don’t talk to your driver, try it in the new year! You’ll be surprised as to what they have to say. And for those that do talk to ur drivers and know them: don’t forget to put them on ur christmas list this year!

  • By Alim, October 17, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

    I really enjoy talking to transit operators and in the city I live in, if the driver is comfortable to talk to me, I will. Since I find it a challenge for me to make friends since some people think I talk too much and because I feel excluded in social settings, I really enjoy the company of talking to the bus drivers and when I am have a great day or a bad day, some have provided me with solutions to my problems since I want to improve my social skills and have a healthy social life which I have found I haven’t had since I have been growing up. So, I just wanted to say thank you to all of the Transit Operators that have given me the time of day in ensuring I have not only a great bus ride but also for being my friend in the time. By the way, I have been told to go sit down before by transit operators and I will co-operate on that regards.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Friday fun post: share your top transit moments of the decade — December 18, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

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