I am fascinated with how things get done here in Halifax through Council. I am equally interested in what does NOT get done. Our transit system for example, just scored 1.2 million dollars from HRM City council. How so and what for, you ask? The money is for a ‘security camera system’ on transit buses and ferries. It arose after a number of drivers were ‘attacked’ while on the job and the subsequent outcry from their union, as well as the press around it. I think the media attention on this whole thing is what really propelled HRM Council to move the money through to Metro Transit like greased lightning. After all, the city does not want to appear negligent or uncaring about the safety of bus drivers. The teary radio interviews (I bet TV stuff was even more melodramatic) with the female compadres of the driver who was attacked, really cinched it. I don’t have any objection to driver- safety initiatives or union representation. The problem is, the idea of cameras on buses for protection, is silly. My informal survey of female drivers has found that they don’t think security cameras on buses will be effective in keeping them safe from the truly crazy, drunk and doped-up nuts who are the most likely to go spontaneously berserk and attack them. These types of live-wire attackers will not pause and reflect on the presence of a camera over their heads before they punch out a driver for not accepting their transfer or refusing to ‘make out’ with them. It could be that grainy images of an attack, after the fact, will be moderately helpful in getting a conviction in court or compensation from the maimed driver’s employer (HRM).
My complaint is that our transit system gets funded, under funded, or not funded at all, in a way that is a knee-jerk reaction to situations, trends or public pressure. Spending seems to be totally unprioritized. We STILL, after one year of testing, do not have a functioning ‘real time go-time’ service. I can’t recall the price tag on that, project, but whatever it was, it was huge. It should be given priority to get it WORKING at all costs, over some of other recent add-on expenditures, like security cameras. For example the city also purchased some hybrid diesel Transit buses last year because of the push from the HRM’s official environmental geeks (I am a non-official geek supporter). They moved so quickly to tender the purchase of the buses, that they scored vehicles which apparently have proven to be defective. I hear they are going back to the seller. We have no critically-needed voice enunciator system in Halifax, and apparently no plan to find money for it any time soon. The list goes on.