Occupational Hazard: Driving for City Transit
This news feature article is about the dangers city transit drivers encounter on a daily basis; it is but one story amid drivers frustrations and pleas to promote better support for themselves and, subsequently, enhanced public safety. News Writing is one of the first writing courses I have taken, along with Freelance Writing. This class was particularly fascinating due to my dynamic journalism professor, Dr. Maxine Ruvinsky. What I most enjoyed about the course was seeking out and then interviewing the appropriate sources. Naturally, the requirement to get all the facts straight and not quote individuals out of context is a challenge, but the skills obtained will be valuable for writing all my future stories, whether non-fiction or fiction. I believe I will always feel indebted to the Journalism Department, and to Ms. Ruvinsky in particular, for her meticulous instruction and guidance.
It was supposed to be the start of a great New Year, but that’s not how it turned out for Rick Beaulieu. Instead, on January 2, 2012, Beaulieu ended his shift alive, yet demoralized, angry, and defeated. From the back of the bus, a sixteen year old boy, who cannot be named, yelled, “All the drivers are little pricks. They don’t give a shit about us!” He was trying to incite an altercation between Beaulieu and some other passengers.
Due to his four years of driving with the Kamloops Transit system and being well aware that passenger safety is the utmost priority and that drivers are not to “engage” in a confrontation, Beaulieu remained calm. He was on Dallas Drive, twenty-five minutes east of the city’s core bus exchange when he pulled over at the next stop and asked the passenger to leave. The kid refused. Beaulieu next radioed the supervisor on shift, Ralph Vanderheide, the Manager for First Canada, ULC, who told Beaulieu, “Drive the boy in and I’ll call the RCMP. In the meantime, we’ll meet at the exchange.” Beaulieu made the call to his dispatch because this isn’t the first time the teen has been in trouble with the law and bus drivers. In October of 2011, the boy had been involved in one of two separate assaults on Kamloops City transit drivers that sent drivers to the hospital. Beaulieu is one of the several local drivers aware of this particular youth’s identity and propensity for violence. Very few drivers have seen the youth’s photo. Beaulieu is fortunate.
News Story written 04/2012