CrackBerry crackdown: TTC throwing book at drivers using cellphones (but nobody’s sure what, exactly, is happening)

CrackBerry crackdown: TTC throwing book at drivers using cellphones (but nobody’s sure what, exactly, is happening)

Nobody likes to see TTC operators breaking the law by using cellphones while they drive, but the headlines this morning suggest that the friendly local transit commission may be going too far in the other direction, cracking down on TTC operators for using their phones in ways that don’t break traffic laws. According to the Toronto Star, TTC union president Bob Kinnear claims that the commission is going to “ridiculous” lengths to keep drivers from using mobiles on the job—“including disciplining employees for making calls on their break.”

Kinnear sent a message to all TTC employees Sunday informing them of mounting complaints over an alleged city-wide crackdown on uniformed workers using cellphones, even when not behind the wheel.

Kinnear could not confirm a precise number of employees affected in an interview with the Star, saying that seven representatives are currently dealing with the complaints.

Except that there might be less here than meets the eye. One of the claims made by Kinnear and repeated several times on today’s edition of CBC’s Metro Morning, was that one woman was fired after she used her cellphone to photograph a person who allegedly spat on her and used an obscene gesture. Except, as the Star notes, she wasn’t fired at all: the incident occurred on Monday, she was relieved of duties Tuesday, appealed and was back at work on Friday. Kinnear ought to know this, because the woman’s appeal was with the help of her union representative.

Meanwhile, Metro Morning interviewed TTC chief Gary Webster, and the big take-away is that nobody, even the boss man, is really sure what’s going on yet. Webster emphasized over and over that the TTC is struggling to impose a consistent policy on a large organization, and it’s early days yet. So for all the noise, the actual story seems to be that a) the TTC is attacking a dangerous activity; b) it might be a bit overzealous at first; but most importantly c) as usual, nobody’s quite sure what the TTC is doing.

• TTC drivers fired for harmless cellphone use, union says [Toronto Star]
• TTC hung up on harmless cell use: Union [Toronto Sun]
• Interview with Gary Webster [Metro Morning]