Sunday, June 3, 2007

"How to complain about SAC-RT Drivers"

I must admit, sometimes I feel like the public that I serve is completely out of touch with reality. Granted, I am skewed to the "pro SAC-RT DRIVER" point of view, more often than not my fellow "SAC-RT DRIVER'S" tend to board the best Sacramento has to offer.

You had a bad day. You just got fired. You missed a connecting bus at 65th Street. Your normal bus is 10 minutes late. OMFG! the light rail broke!

My cousin e-mailed me the following article, with detailed instructions on how to file a complaint against me. And honestly, it hurts.


The author of the article below reminded me that her article is copywritten material, so here is a direct link to the content written by HeartenSoul.

I'm going to post the entire article, which is long so play along.

"Riding Sacramento Regional Transit buses and light rail can be an infuriating, even frightening, experience. Little guidance exists to resolve issues unless you understand how “the system” works.

In Case of Emergency:
Know the difference between a complaint and an emergency. If you are riding Regional Transit and feel that lives are in danger, you must notify the appropriate law enforcement officials. Do NOT call the Customer Satisfaction Unit or 321-BUSS as this will only delay the response of public officials. Contact law enforcement immediately in any way that you can. Trained public-safety officers protect every inch of the public transportation system. You cannot expect the customer service operators to handle a life-or-limb-threatening emergency.

That being said, it is highly likely that you will someday wish to lodge a complaint against the Sacramento Regional Transit level of service. If you follow a few guidelines the complaint process can result in change. However, do not expect that you can file a complaint against a driver and have them removed from the line. It is NOT going to happen. The union is a formidable advocate for the rights and continued employment of each driver. No complaint will escalate to disciplinary level without satisfying the criteria for causing suspension or dismissal as established by the union. Your advocate is any employee of the Regional Transit Customer Satisfaction Unit.

No Immediacy:
You must also know that you will not be permitted to lodge a complaint while you are still riding the bus or the light rail. Customer Satisfaction Unit employees are instructed to discontinue your call until you have disembarked. This precaution is necessary so that an altercation between driver and passengers cannot arise and for various other reasons. In any case, there is no immediate remedy available to resolve your complaint. No supervisor can or will be dispatched to stop your bus en-route to discipline the driver. It WILL NOT happen. No radio contact can be made with the driver from the Customer Satisfaction Unit. There are no exceptions. Customer Satisfaction Unit employees do not represent the drivers nor do they talk to the drivers neither do they reprimand the drivers. They may only present your case to the driver’s supervisor in a manner that is approved for communicating complaints. That manner is in writing. Without a life-threatening emergency, there is no immediate resolution forthcoming for any complaint.

Don’t Ask for A Supervisor:
Driver Supervisors do not come to the front office to speak with passengers. Driver Supervisors will not take your phone call and will not drive out to address you in person. There are many, many myths about people who think they can call the Customer Satisfaction Unit and have a supervisor personally address their complaint on the spot. It will not happen. Don’t even ask.

Identify the Vehicle:
Before getting on the phone and dialing the complaint department, it would be helpful to have the necessary information ready. The necessary information for filing a complaint in published periodically in the bus-book. It includes providing the route number of your bus or which light rail line you are upset about. What is the date and time of day, your direction of travel, and the location of the beginning of your trip? You may be asked to give a physical description of the driver. Then you will be asked to provide a dialogue of the situation. Complaining in the heat of the moment might cause you to forget details that will either make or break your complaint.

Identify the Driver:
RT Supervisors dismiss many more complaints for lack of accurate identifying information than the number of complaints that result in any type of action. For instance, identifying a driver as a Hispanic male when he is a Native American male will cause a dismissal. If you don’t know it as a fact, don’t share it. For some routes in the RT system, it is vital to provide a description of the driver. There are so many Route 23 buses, for instance, that seldom run on schedule. If a #23 driver “catches up” to the bus running ahead of it and passes it, the first driver to arrive at Arden Mall will not be the first scheduled driver. You could easily cause the wrong driver to be reprimanded if you don’t provide a physical description. The Hispanic male could be more accurately defined as male, caramel colored skin, brown eyes, cropped dark hair with sunglasses and an RT baseball cap.

Just the Facts
Once you’ve provided the facts of who, when, and where it is time to share the “what” and the “how” of the situation. Do not presume the “why”. Just state what happened. Don’t guess that the driver passed you at your stop because he was talking to another passenger. Don’t suppose that the driver jerked the bus so he could knock you off your feet because you took too much time getting on the bus. State the fact and only the fact. “The bus jerked and I fell on the floor before I could take a seat”. Don’t suppose to explain why a driver did anything. Your complaint can be dismissed if your guess is wrong and chances are, even if your guess is correct, the driver will have an alternate story. Facts cannot be disputed. Suppositions can. Do not suppose anything.

Satisfaction is NOT guaranteed
If you expect to know the outcome of your complaint it is absolutely vital that you request a response in writing. Do not file a complaint and leave out the punch line. “I want a call from the supervisor”. State your desired outcome in simple language and your request will be addressed by the driver’s supervisor. If you ask for a phone call, provide your phone number. This is not to say that the supervisor will grant you your request. It only assures you that they will reply.

If your complaint involves an ADA issue, a process and timeline is published online and in the bus book. There are stringent laws in place to protect the rights of the disabled. Please refer to the latest publications from Sacramento Regional Transit for understanding your rights in the complaint process. Signature Required Debate continues about the union requirement for signatures on passenger reports. According to union rules, without a signature, the complaint cannot become a part of the driver’s permanent record. If you send an email complaint and expect it to escalate to disciplinary action or to become a part of the record, you must follow up by signing and mailing a physical copy. Don’t Hold Back In any case, this article could not possibly address all the various situations encountered on the Sacramento Regional Transit System that a passenger would wish to report.

The majority of the passenger service reports filed each month are for driver behavior so this article focuses on reporting situations of that nature. Do not expect the driver to be removed from his job without sufficient cause. One complaint does not satisfy the criteria to establish sufficient cause. Multiple complaints by various riders must be received and substantiated. It may distress the readers and passengers to know that some of the most egregious complaints are dismissed on minor insufficiencies in the complaint process. More reports will net better results. If more than one passenger reports a driver’s surly or nasty behavior, the reports become more credible and substantial."

Honestly, if the author of the above article is of the notion that I (SAC-RT Driver) and my brother and sister driver's start out our day with the intention to provide as horrible an experience as possible for them, it seems he/she is skipping the medication. As with any large urban transit organization, hiccups happen. It's life. It's part of coping.

And, contrary to what some people think...when a passenger complains about a driver...they find us. RT is like the NSA.

I remember details, forget almost nothing, Guarantee Satisfaction & safely get you and your family to where they need to be everyday.

I'm an
RT Driver


John said...

I once had a bus driver abruptly start the bus as I was walking to the back of the bus. I was the only passenger and I ended up falling into a seat. Was she messing with me?

I've only been riding RT regularly for five months, but I have never had reason to complain about a driver.

On the other hand, I have seen a passenger yelling and cursing a driver with a standing-room-only crowded bus for not keeping to the schedule.

And I have seen a woman visibly upset because the bus missed a connection with a train that it WASN'T scheduled to make.

RT is a big company with lots of drivers. I'm sure there are some bad apples. Perhaps a few guys who think because they've got a huge bag of seniority they don't have to make an effort anymore.

But I'd be willing to bet my monthly bus pass that the vast majority of RT bus drivers and train operators consider themselves professionals and attempt to perform their job in a professional manner. I might even be able to work up some sympathy for the people who handle the 321-BUSS calls.

Hahn at Home said...

Hi John! This is great...I can't wait to read more and learn the ins and outs--cause I haven't ridden mass transit since living West of here. And, I have a feeling I'm going to need to teach my teens, because lord knows they don't seem inclined to get their driver's license.

Hearten Soul said...

Hey John -

Did you notice the copyright on the article copied and pasted in your blog?

Do yourself a favor. Please provide the link instead.

Overall, I appreciate RT drivers very much. But, when a rider is upset with the behavior of a driver, it is productive when they know how to complain in an effective manner.

I don't like to hear riders gripe and complain to fellow riders about this or that driver. It gives all the drivers a bad name.

Most baskets come with a bad apple or two. I wrote the article to help folks identify and remove the bad apple instead of spoiling the whole batch with their fuming in public.

Keep up the good work. I'm glad I found your blog. But, please don't forget to provide inks to articles that are copyrighted rather than copying them. The writers, no matter how amateur, would appreciate the credit! ((smile))

John said...

"John Q" if you're wondering who this Hearten Soul is, check out Maybe you saw her at headquarters between July 2004 and January 2006.

Jon Q. RT Driver said...


Hearten Soul said...

Touché ~

So much for anonymity! You're quite the detective RT Rider!

However, RT Driver has probably seen me more frequently riding the system! I was a temporary employee in the Customer Satisfaction Unit and we were not in the Administration Office!

Glad to meet the both of you. I hope that I haven't offended - t'was not my intention - as mentioned in my profile motto!

As I explained in my article "Abandoning the Car in Sacramento - Is There Life Without the Automobile?” I am dependent on RT or upon my own two feet for transportation. I appreciate RT and the service they provide. I, more importantly, appreciate the majority of the operators.

I travel the system with my disabled husband frequently and most operators go out of their way to befriend and assist him. Many have been his “friends” throughout the thirteen years of his recovery from a massive stroke. Those special drivers are patient, understanding and compassionate to a degree I would only expect from true friends.

Others, however, disregard his difficulty with mobility and cause him much grief and distress. They won’t lower the kneeler, won’t pull to the curb, pull out before he is seated or let him off in gravel or grass where stability is an issue. I have filed more complaints about those drivers than I care to count. Each time that a driver fails to accommodate my husband’s needs they are jeopardizing his physical safety.

I’m sorry that my article about “how to complain” would make it sound as if I have an attitude about RT drivers. I don’t. I have an attitude about bad apples.

Unfortunately, it is usually an encounter with a bad apple that makes someone speak up. Someday, maybe we’ll be successful in getting more people to speak up for the operators who shine!

Hope to see you in my travels –

Hearten Soul

Regional said...

Drivers, like you said, go out of their way to help you and your husband. Yes this is the thanks they deserve. All drivers should take note of this ungrateful. She was once a "Customer Satisfaction Unit." Underline "Unit."

Unknown said...

I am lodging a complaint this morning,as Bus 65 never stop ,although he clearly saw us waiting at the bus stop on 75th street at 6:44am.This was the Franklin to 65th route.What we witness this morning is that he picked someone up from the Opposite lane,and continue straight without jumping back on the side of the lane where we are waiting.My daughter used to take this bus to School and what happens this morning doesn't paint a very polite and safe environment with the kind of rude behavior shown by this driver.You force my daughter to miss school and i am totally upset with this driver.

Lepani Verebasaga said...

My name is Lepani and this is a worst and unsafe drive,where he jumped to the opposite side a few yards from us ,stopping in the middle for pick up,forgetting that we were just there in front of him at the stop sign on 75th and 51st,.

RT rider 2015 said...

I had a driver skip the stop at Coloma McGregor today & almost missed my IRS appointment.Bus #2857 was even 10 mins.late

Fed up transit rider said...

The rt service is generally horrible especially if you live or frequently visit areas of town that are considered lower class.most of the drivers I've encountered the last 5-10 years of riding mass transit are generally rude and unknowledgeable.they have horrible people skills and act like they'd rather be anywhere but driving a bus for a living.i totally understand we have are good days and bad days but it's getting to the point of ridiculousness.the drivers need sensitivity training as well as diversity training.

Fed up transit rider said...

I believe I might've helped your husband one day when a driver didn't lower the ramp correctly and we had to do a incident report and he asked me to talk to his wife because he wasn't sure of his info because of his stroke