City bus driver resigns over lack of care for elderly

By Hung Jui-chin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Apr 16, 2016 - Page 5

A bus driver on Wednesday resigned from his job driving Tainan buses over his belief that the company places too much emphasis on deadlines and disregards empathy for elderly and disabled people.

The city bus company is reportedly facing increasingly difficulties providing timely service, while also looking out for the safety of elderly or disabled passengers.

The driver, Huang Ching-nan (黃靖男), was suspended from service for late arrivals on his route for 10 consecutive days.

The company said Huang’s service was impeccable, adding that it was because of Huang’s exceptional attitude that he was re-employed by the company, despite having resigned previously.

However, Huang received a warning for being severely behind time for 10 consecutive days, forcing the company to act, it said.

Huang has called on city councilors to consider making changes to the bus system.

The Tainan Bureau of Transportation said that due to the unpredictability of traffic, the usual method of determining why a bus driver is late arriving at the next stop is through GPS data and onboard surveillance cameras.

Bus drivers can be fined in extreme situations to protect passengers’ rights, the bureau said, adding that Huang drove the morning shift, which could affect passengers going to work or school.

The bureau said the company made temporary arrangements, but it would be looking into Huang’s performance in subsequent investigations.

Huang said that when he was young he saw bus drivers yell at elderly people because they were slow, adding that he made a promise to himself that he would be a “good” driver.

Huang said his ideals were reinforced after working as a driver in Japan for eight years, and he believed that being empathetic was one of the requirements of his job.

Huang said that if he heard his colleagues at Ho-Hsin Bus or Ubus, his previous employers, talking about the “crazy driver,” they meant him, adding that in the two decades he has driven in Taiwan he has been repeatedly criticized for his beliefs.

Huang said he has witnessed bus drivers telling elderly people they were “trash” because they were slow getting on or off the bus, or would not wait for elderly people to be seated before driving.

“I wanted to set an example, but instead I have been suspended, so I did the only thing I could do — I quit,” Huang said.

Democratic Progressive Party Tainan City Councilor Chiu Li-li (邱莉莉) said the bureau’s point-deduction policy for being on time could lead drivers to prioritize time over quality of service.

The point deduction system means a decrease in subsidies for the company when a certain number of buses fail to arrive on time.

Chiu called on the bureau to consider improving the current system.