Introducing the Stop Idling Buses Project

The Coast asks readers to help document the problem.

We've all seen them, and it's extremely frustrating. I'm talking about idling buses, of course. Many of us ride the bus because we are worried about the environmental effects of our commute, so to then see buses idling makes us feel like our efforts are wasted.

I've discussed this issue with Metro Transit management. Here's the policy: Management asks drivers to turn off the buses if they are going to idle for more than three minutes. Unlike diesel engines decades ago, there is no mechanical reason to keep the buses running today, management assures me.

But, the "no idling" policy is trumped by workplace and customer comfort. That is, since the bus in the driver's workplace, he or she has every right to keep the bus at a comfortable temperature---a driver cannot be expected to wait in a freezing or hot bus, and therefore the driver may keep the bus running to run the heating or air-conditioning system.

The same argument holds for when there are passengers in the bus, as when the bus is waiting to catch up to its schedule at a terminal, for example.

So, while Metro Transit has a policy of discouraging idling, there's no real management power to enforce it. That leaves only direct public pressure on drivers.

For myself, I respect the "driver comfort" argument. But it's clear that especially at this time of year, the air temperature is comfortable. And we've all seen buses idling in cold weather, the bus heat on, but the driver sitting next to an open window.

The Coast is therefore asking readers to help us document the idling buses. Please report the following information:

1. Date, time and location of bus idling.
2. How long was the bus idling?
3. What is the bus number and/or route number?
4. What is the weather?
5. If you desire, can you politely ask the driver about the idling?
6. Any other comments.
7. Picture, if possible.

Please send your information to timb@thecoast.ca.

Important: Please at all times be respectful of the drivers. This is an educational campaign, not a confrontation. The goal is to engage the drivers in a public discussion; there will be at times explanations for idling that the public is not aware of, and this is an opportunity for them to present their case as well. So, drivers, you too are welcome to comment.

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