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CTA bus driver models customer service


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Here's my .02 cents worth...

This Operator was most likely recommended to Hilkevitch(Busjacks favorite reporter :P ) probably through compliments from her customers through 1-888-YOUR-CTA begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-888-YOUR-CTA      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Being a Public Servant myself, it really makes my day when a Customer says something nice about me to a Supervisor. I still wear my #1 Service pin that I got a few years ago from when a Customer called my Store Mgr. and made a compliment about me to him(and there are plenty of other cashiers with more experience then me). If I see a Bus Operator go out of his/her way to do something nice for passengers, I'll call and make a compliment to the CTA Operator, because I know what kinda stuff they have to put up with on a daily basis. The only difference is my venue is a cash register, theirs is a seat behind the wheel of a 35, 40, or 60-Foot Bus.

Bottom Line: If you do your job satifactorily, nothing comes of it. If you do it above expectations, you'll get some merit, like this Operator did. It doesn't matter if you've been with your company 1 year, 5 years, or 45 years.

And how do you define satifactory? above expectations?? Experience does matter!!

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And how do you define satifactory? above expectations?? Experience does matter!!

That's up to the passenger/customer.

Odds are few passengers know how much experience their bus operator has, just like few grocery store customers know how long their cashier has been on the job. All they know is the service they received that day (and, perhaps, past days if they recognize that employee). What that employee went through with the previous customer, or on yesterday's shift, or last year, does not matter to the customer that he/she is facing at the moment.

One common theme I have noted in my experience talking to operators (bus and train, CTA and elsewhere, local transit and intercity travel) is that many (not all, but many) forget what it's like to see things from the customer's perspective. This assumes, of course, that they ever were on the customer side (there are plenty of bus operators who would never ride for their own travel). As a result, they often misinterpret what their customers' needs and priorities are.

It's also true that passengers themselves may not realize what their priorities are. A safe trip from origin to destination is clearly the #1 priority, but it's also something that most passengers take for granted. Like it or not, for better or worse, most people won't call in just to say that they boarded their bus on time and got to their destination safely.

I know that you take safety very seriously, given that you have two jobs where safety has the highest importance, but the fact is that most people won't notice a "safe" driver. If the driver is unsafe, you can bet someone is going to notice, though.

So, if you want to define "satisfactory" or "above expectations," you have to ask the passenger what their expectations are. You can't assume you know what a passenger wants, and then complain when someone else gets recognized for actually giving passengers the service they want.

To you, experience matters. Maybe, just maybe, to the passengers riding the bus, the operator's length of service isn't the most important thing they're concerned with.

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Maybe, just maybe, to the passengers riding the bus, the operator's length of service isn't the most important thing they're concerned with.

Maybe it should be. There is way too much giving the passenger what they "want". They do not know what is in their best interests, they just know what they "want". A classic me first attitude and the hell with everyone else. Everyone is so pampered that they can't accept the word "no" anymore.

Actual length of service may or not be not be the real issue, but I will use what I feel is a good example. Although this may be a little extreme, I think the illustration is worth mentioning. There is much made in the airline industry about the pompus pilots (and I will agree that they are). A pilot with 40 years is a hell of a lot better than one with 5...why, because they have been in positions to deal with occurances. The biggest fear is that someday soon, with all of the technology in the cockpit, a pilot with less experience will be unable to fly said plane should the technology fail because they don't have the skills or the training to do it. These are things that can't be duplicated in the simulator until after it happens.

Closer to home, Metra will soon be faced with many engineers who maybe shouldn't be in the cab. Years back, you needed to be a PROMOTED CONDUCTOR (ie a trainman with 2+ years of experience) before you could advance into the position of an engineer. This requirement was done because the longer you are out in the field, the more situations you will encounter and will be able to deal with it when you are alone in the cab and need to make decisions in a split second. Currently, because management has refused to admit to and accept the fact that there are manpower shortages, the requirement of being a Promoted Conductor has been waived, and in fact you need only be a trainman for a year...far short of encountering many decision making situations. As older engineers retire (and there will add up to be 20+ between last year and next) candidates are fast tracked into the program so that they have bodies running the trains. Note, I said bodies, not necessarily reliable bodies. As a conductor responsible for the train, it makes me very nervous. This is not to say that someone in this position won't make a good engineer, but I would rather have an experienced engineer operating the train, so I would have one less thing to worry about as I collect tickets, throw people out of their seats to accomodate bikes, or soon police quiet cars as well as worrying about things I should have to worry about (ie.railroad rules).

I will make this my last comment on this subject...it is things like this that really make me want to turn in my punch and move on. I do have a good rep where I am at with my co-workers and regular passengers. Unfortunately, this means nothing to most with an agenda, or many of the politicos in charge who make decisions without any first hand knowledge of the consequences of policies they implement. So much of it is contradictory to the benefit of the majority in favor of a select few.

With that I bid adeu !!

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Maybe it should be. There is way too much giving the passenger what they "want". They do not know what is in their best interests, they just know what they "want". A classic me first attitude and the hell with everyone else. Everyone is so pampered that they can't accept the word "no" anymore.

Actual length of service may or not be not be the real issue, but I will use what I feel is a good example. Although this may be a little extreme, I think the illustration is worth mentioning. There is much made in the airline industry about the pompus pilots (and I will agree that they are). A pilot with 40 years is a hell of a lot better than one with 5...why, because they have been in positions to deal with occurances. The biggest fear is that someday soon, with all of the technology in the cockpit, a pilot with less experience will be unable to fly said plane should the technology fail because they don't have the skills or the training to do it. These are things that can't be duplicated in the simulator until after it happens.

Closer to home, Metra will soon be faced with many engineers who maybe shouldn't be in the cab. Years back, you needed to be a PROMOTED CONDUCTOR (ie a trainman with 2+ years of experience) before you could advance into the position of an engineer. This requirement was done because the longer you are out in the field, the more situations you will encounter and will be able to deal with it when you are alone in the cab and need to make decisions in a split second. Currently, because management has refused to admit to and accept the fact that there are manpower shortages, the requirement of being a Promoted Conductor has been waived, and in fact you need only be a trainman for a year...far short of encountering many decision making situations. As older engineers retire (and there will add up to be 20+ between last year and next) candidates are fast tracked into the program so that they have bodies running the trains. Note, I said bodies, not necessarily reliable bodies. As a conductor responsible for the train, it makes me very nervous. This is not to say that someone in this position won't make a good engineer, but I would rather have an experienced engineer operating the train, so I would have one less thing to worry about as I collect tickets, throw people out of their seats to accomodate bikes, or soon police quiet cars as well as worrying about things I should have to worry about (ie.railroad rules).

I will make this my last comment on this subject...it is things like this that really make me want to turn in my punch and move on. I do have a good rep where I am at with my co-workers and regular passengers. Unfortunately, this means nothing to most with an agenda, or many of the politicos in charge who make decisions without any first hand knowledge of the consequences of policies they implement. So much of it is contradictory to the benefit of the majority in favor of a select few.

With that I bid adeu !!

Giving the passengers too much of what they want? Its not giving them what they want that will cause them to find other means of transportation. You are there because of them and not the other way around. You are there to serve them and not the other way around.

With the example of the pilot and the Metra engineers, certainly safety and experience is important. But who asks the pilot how long they've been flying. If they are in that position, you trust that they can do the job already. But this example shows that the pilot and engineer do not interact with the customers at all. The flight attendants and the conductors do. Most conductors are respectful and do okay with customer service and there are some old timers that are downright surly. I don't know them by name, but I know of two on the BNSF I would not rather see. To some, seniority (experience) gives them the right to be onery because they feel they have job protection. Perhaps they are okay with the regulars, I was a semi-regular. But first impressions can be lasting impressions.

Here is my example. There are many motor coach companies in Chicago. Each has several drivers that can get people from point A to B and back safely. What makes some more profitable than others are those that interact positively with their clients. Those clients, due to the "personality" of the driver become repeat customers and will usually request the same driver whenever they want to charter a bus. There have been instances when the driver changed companies that the client followed the driver to the new company. So again, the topic is not "model bus operator' but "bus operator models customer service"

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...

Here is my example. There are many motor coach companies in Chicago. Each has several drivers that can get people from point A to B and back safely. What makes some more profitable than others are those that interact positively with their clients. Those clients, due to the "personality" of the driver become repeat customers and will usually request the same driver whenever they want to charter a bus. There have been instances when the driver changed companies that the client followed the driver to the new company. So again, the topic is not "model bus operator' but "bus operator models customer service"

Which is inherently the problem with CTA and Pace, in that there is not a competing carrier, except where CTA competes with Pace (i.e. routes 205 or 208 if you want to go from Downtown Evanston to Old Orchard).

In which case, the customers don't have much of a choice and don't have great expectations. I'm sure that the drivers know that, just like the patronage employees who work for the townships, for example, and think that everyone going to the township trustee's office is a welfare client, and treat all accordingly.

And, as far as the private carriers are concerned, I had to drive someone to a job interview in an area that used to be served by route 699 (Biesterfield/Rohlwing), but obviously no longer is. So, no one longer has expectations, including the passengers, or the drivers. She could have taken the bus to NWTC, but basically it was "that area is not served by transit." So the expectation is "bus or no bus."

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Ok after a break away from the forum, this is what I come back to. As one who lives smack in the middle of Kedzie territory, I'd gladly love to see her driving on the 12, 82, 145 or 151 in place of the few really bad apples that I do encounter on those routes, who've been mixed in with the good ones since the February cuts. Great customer service and having an outgoing personality does go a long way. I can give you my personal example. A lot of Kedzie operators shopped at one store I worked at while in school. I always did my job under the adage the number one reason I'm there is because of the customer and the reason they stay or leave can be because of me. That extended over to the operators who shopped there regularly. That translated over to if one of them was driving when I was going to class or needed to get to work and they saw me approaching the stop, they would wait the few seconds it would take me to safely jog up to their bus. Other times if one of them were waiting for a light change, they'd tap their horn to catch my attention and wave hello. To this day when I see any of them (save one who retired a few years ago), either in passing or when boarding the bus they're driving, I get received by a big smile and a heartfelt hello regardless of the hassles they may have had on their respective routes. So let this woman have her much deserved accolades. Now that I look at the picture again I do remember riding on a #10 that she drove one Saturday afternoon this past spring. Her personality is just as warm and beautiful as the news story states. Passengers actually do light up upon seeing her. So there's no fluff. It makes me wish she was one of the full timers. She's helping reinforce something I already knew, namely not all CTA operators are bitchy, inconsiderate and rude.

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Ideally the article could have acknowledged a few outstanding operators instead of just one. This operator appears to do her job well, and does it better than the "average" CTA operator. Granted she doesn't have 20 years of experience but I don't think you need 20 years of experience before your allowed to be extra helpful and nice to the customers. Meanwhile I'm sure there are quite a few other CTA operators, with various levels of experience, who do their jobs just as well or better than she does.

Incidentally if you want some of the operators who have been on the job for many years acknowledged, call in a compliment to CTA. If nothing else it would probably be nice for them to get a good compliment. (I hope compliments are shared with the operators)

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  • 1 year later...

On the job less than 2 1/2 years and their doing a story about her? Gimme a break!! She has no time on the job yet. She hasant seen or experienced what its really like to be a CTA bus operator! Using the #151 Sheridan route as an example to beat on bad CTA operators is unfair. I was a seven year veteran CTA bus driver, Ive been in the thick of it! I drove buses out of three garages, Ive driven most of the routes that go into and out of downtown, plus the mean streets of the west side, I know from experience, no CTA bus route can compare to the challenges of running routes such as the #151 Sheridan, #126 Jackson, 147 Outer Drive Exp. or the #20 Madison routes, the #121 route is just a short bus shuttle from the train station to to the Ill Ctr. You cant compare the #121 to the routes I listed!. Put this operator with only 2 years on the job and put her on a full run 5 days a week on the #151 between Howard and Union Station then do a story about her model operator status! Working busy bus routes is what makes a CTA bus operator! There are CTA drivers out there, with time on the job! that work much busier routes than the #121 that go the extra mile and never see one commendation! I cant speak for every CTA operator but nowadays along with the verbal abuse, theyre spit on, cursed out and physically attacked by riders and then many wonder why some CTA operators arent as friendly!. Many of the riding public arent allowing these operators to do their job. What a ridiculous article!

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Instead of asking why does she deserve an article, consider that it is because of this economy that she is thankful for her job. She loves her job and her customers. She is 43 and only on this job for two and a half years and has numerous articles about her. No one is saying that she is the best bus driver ever. No one is saying that she stands above and beyond those before her. It is simply an article about a writer who normally rides her bus and sees that she is ONE of many drivers who love their jobs, routes and customers. It is two years later and Red Eye paper did an article on her again. I am saddened but not surprised to know that you are a CTA employee as well. If every driver who deserves recognition, received it, I think you would still have a problem with it. Would you say no to an oppurtunity for someone to write about you and the great but unrecognized efforts you've made over the years for the CTA? How would you feel if the same thing happened to you and people not only criticized you for it, but made unfounded assumptions as well? Why read an article on someone deserving of an article if it only irritates you. Please don't bother looking for her new Red Eye article on 9/13/12. I hope you eventually get the recognition I am sure you deserve as well.

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Instead of asking why does she deserve an article, consider that it is because of this economy that she is thankful for her job. She loves her job and her customers. She is 43 and only on this job for two and a half years and has numerous articles about her. No one is saying that she is the best bus driver ever. No one is saying that she stands above and beyond those before her. It is simply an article about a writer who normally rides her bus and sees that she is ONE of many drivers who love their jobs, routes and customers. It is two years later and Red Eye paper did an article on her again. I am saddened but not surprised to know that you are a CTA employee as well. If every driver who deserves recognition, received it, I think you would still have a problem with it. Would you say no to an oppurtunity for someone to write about you and the great but unrecognized efforts you've made over the years for the CTA? How would you feel if the same thing happened to you and people not only criticized you for it, but made unfounded assumptions as well? Why read an article on someone deserving of an article if it only irritates you. Please don't bother looking for her new Red Eye article on 9/13/12. I hope you eventually get the recognition I am sure you deserve as well.

First of all, I dont know you! So dont be verbally attacking me on this site before you have all the facts! Second! Let me ask you something, Are you a bus operator? If you are or were then you would understand the point I was making! Im not personally attacking her, but her experience compared to bus operators that have five, ten, fifteen, twenty years on the job working much busier and much more challenging routes than the #121. I worked out of Kedzie, No. Park and Forest Glen. At Kedzie, I worked the #121 many times, its not as challenging as they make it to be! But work a #151 run from Downtown to Howard and back, Work a #22 Clark from downtown to to Howard and back, #36 Broadway, #56 Milwaukkee, the Outer Drive Express routes! Real working routes!! My point was, where is the recognition for the bus operators who operate those routes? Instead theyre being badmouthed by "haters", spit on, verbally abused and now in some cases physically assualted!

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You know after reading this initial article then reading some of these ridiculous comments, you guys are what young people call "haters"! The nerve of you guys to say such negative things about a woman who simply loves her job and because of it she got regonized for it. She only had to and a half years then she's most likely full time now. I bet some of you who hate on her probably used to work for cta and got fired or have bad customer service skills in return make your job harder than what it has to be. It's people like her who only in her short time at cta will move up to higher positions before those who been there for yrs and still doing the same thing they stared out doing. Be happy for the lady and glad that somebody actually loves their job and appreciates it for what it's worth. I hope she's still the same way and loves her job more than she did when she started.

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You know after reading this initial article then reading some of these ridiculous comments, you guys are what young people call "haters"! The nerve of you guys to say such negative things about a woman who simply loves her job and because of it she got regonized for it. She only had to and a half years then she's most likely full time now. I bet some of you who hate on her probably used to work for cta and got fired or have bad customer service skills in return make your job harder than what it has to be. It's people like her who only in her short time at cta will move up to higher positions before those who been there for yrs and still doing the same thing they stared out doing. Be happy for the lady and glad that somebody actually loves their job and appreciates it for what it's worth. I hope she's still the same way and loves her job more than she did when she started.

I dont recall anyone mentioning the word "hate" anywhere in this discussion. As for my background, read my article in Dec. 2010. Plus, In my seven year history as a CTA bus operator I have recieved four commendations for good customer service, I worked out three bus facilities on the north, nw and the west sides. :)

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I dont recall anyone mentioning the word "hate" anywhere in this discussion. As for my background, read my article in Dec. 2010. Plus, In my seven year history as a CTA bus operator I have recieved four commendations for good customer service, I worked out three bus facilities on the north, nw and the west sides. :)

Lol no I never said anyone said anything about the word hate i was saying what young people say are haters meaning someone who's bitter or jealous of someone else for whatever reason, in this particular article meaning they're mad at the lady for being regonized for loving her job and good customer service skills. Probably bitter cause they are or once were operators who didn't get that same recognition and probably been with the company many yrs before this lady even started, instead of just being happy for her in the 1st place. I'm an operator as well an I applaud her even if I never get regonized like she did I'm happy for an fellow employee.

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Lol no I never said anyone said anything about the word hate i was saying what young people say are haters meaning someone who's bitter or jealous of someone else for whatever reason, in this particular article meaning they're mad at the lady for being regonized for loving her job and good customer service skills. Probably bitter cause they are or once were operators who didn't get that same recognition and probably been with the company many yrs before this lady even started, instead of just being happy for her in the 1st place. I'm an operator as well an I applaud her even if I never get regonized like she did I'm happy for an fellow employee.

You just called some of us "haters"! You included the word in your post! If youre an operator, then read my posting again! Im not personally attacking the lady herself, Im sure shes a very nice lady. Read my article again to see if you understand the point Im trying to make! If youre a bus operator then you should have no problem understanding it!

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You just called some of us "haters"! If youre an operator, then read my posting again! Im not personally attacking the lady herself, Im sure shes a very nice lady. Read my article again to see if you understand the point Im trying to make! If youre a bus operator then you should have no problem understanding it!

I wasn't talking bout you at all and I did read your post I was talking about negative comments I read before I even wrote anything My focus wasn't even on you just the people who responded negatively lol that's all. No need to take it personal it's cool.

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I wasn't talking bout you at all and I did read your post I was talking about negative comments I read before I even wrote anything My focus wasn't even on you just the people who responded negatively lol that's all. No need to take it personal it's cool.

My apologies!

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