I take Montreal public transit on a pretty regular basis.   And you know something when it works, it’s great.   But when the gremlins get into the metro system or buses break down, not so much.

Now the STM wants to know what you think.   It’s launched a big consultation process on bus routes ; trying to fix what’s broken and keep what’s good.

Now that being said, I think the first thing they need to do  is to put some gas gauges in the buses.

Can you believe this?

The Gazette reported this week that STM buses often run out of gas because drivers don’t know how much is in the tank.  

Almost impossible to believe.   Were gauges part of an option package? 

Take the AC and we will throw in a gas gauge and floor mats.

The STM union claims buses run out of gas all the time.  And you know what that means for the people who are on the bus.  Management counters that no they do not.

Buses and Breakdowns

The Gazette further reports many problems with maintenance delays on getting buses fixed and those hybrid buses made by Nova.  Yikes.  They arrive broken.  

The newspaper reports that 400 to 450 buses are continuously parked in garages either being repaired or waiting to be repaired.

And despite an increase in fleet size, there are fewer buses available to pick up passengers that in 2012.

No wonder ridership is way down.

So its really swell that that we are being asked about new routes.  Its a good PR exercise.   How about first of all making sure everything works and start with gas gauges.   F for full E for empty.   Or even P for Plein and V for vide.   All the same, in any language.

Names Matter: Time for a Change

McGill University is faced with a tough decision.  

I have to admit that the more I considered it, the more my thinking evolved.

It’s about the use of the name “Redmen” for men’s sports teams and how in a modern pluralistic society,  it is a name that is painful for many.

Yes, it can be argued that its a legacy name to denote the school’s colours.

But at one point it took a nasty turn.   And the name “Redman” became synonymous with indigenous people.   The women’s teams were known by the nickname of Squaws  and the men’s teams were nicknamed  Indians replete with all the stereotypical ethnic racism that went with it.

A student referendum this  overwhelmingly called for a change.  Organizer Tomas Jirousek had this to say

“I say the origin or the intent of the redman name doesn’t matter.  What matters is that indigenous people have been hurt and that indigenous students have been hurt”

Now the turnout rate was only 27 percent but still those voices need to be heard. You know when something sticks in your gut. This is one of those. The debate can have integrity with thoughtful arguments on both sides. But my gut tells me its time for a change.  Its not political correctness . The hurt just isn’t worth it.

Orwell Was Right

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

You might recognize that sentence.  It’s the opening line from George Orwell’s “1984”.  

I remember reading it in high school and a couple of times since.

A cautionary tale now far too close for comfort.

Ignorance is Strength.

There was truth and untruth.

Orwell indeed was prescient.

These days there are facts and alternative facts.

There is news and fake news.

Losses are celebrated as victories.

Reporters are banned from the White House 

Last summer Trump told a crowd

“Just remember , what you are seeing and what you are reading is not was really happening”

George Orwell wrote, “ the party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.  It was their final, most essential command.”

Let us hope that the new power balance in Washington can help rein in the man who’s concern for getting his hair wet is more important than honouring war dead.

The clock,  you see, has already struck thirteen.