February 5, 2015

Letter to the editor

North Okanagan Labour Council President Andrew Pritchard sent the following letter to the editor to The Daily Courier:
Being the president of the North Okanagan Labour Council and also being the union representative for UNITEHERE local 40, the hotel and restaurant industry union, I have been acutely aware of the needs of visually impaired people in our community. I believe adjusting services provided for the population at large to include this and other groups is always a proper path to follow. The path chosen by BC Transit may be the wrong one.
Back in my grandparents days when they used to take a train or a streetcar, the conductor used to announce the next station out loud. When I was in Seattle last year at the Amtrak station, their computer system was down and a conductor called out all the stations between Seattle and Chicago. It was a nice touch of nostalgia.
With the advent of modern technology and GPS, many transit stations have automated services already installed. Our 97 Express in Kelowna, as an example, has automated callouts and time display. Translink in Vancouver has automated call outs on heavy hall runs with software provided by “Init.”
You must ask yourself, when asked by the CNIB, would BC Transit go back in time and required its operators to use the antiquated call-out system. There are major concerns with this procedure. The modern road demands full attention of the operator to ensure the safety of their passengers. New distracted driving laws highlight our fears in this area. Areas of concern are customers not hearing or understanding the driver. An automated system is clear and concise. Relief drivers would be required to know all the stops in Kelowna (upwards of 1000) .
Why then, If Kelowna is already half automated, would BC Transit ask its operators do this. I think this is a cost-saving measure, without regard for public safety and the wrong path to follow.
Andrew Pritchard,
North Okanagan Labour Council president,


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