Friendly Bus Drivers — Coming Soon

CTA officials are developing a training program to make drivers smile

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With all the trouble the Chicago Transit Authority has been facing in the past couple of years, there's a new initiative that's bound to make riders -- if not drivers -- feel better.

CTA President Richard Rodriguez announced Wednesday that the agency's bus drivers are going to get friendly training ... training, that is, to teach the people who greet riders as they step onto a bus in a friendly fashion.

It's quite a concept, really. Transit officials and union reps are working together to develop a program to enhance customer service.

You've heard of anger management, right? This is sort of like that, in so much as it requires drivers to reduce the emotional feelings of annoyance, frustration and anger with certain passengers. 

You know the ones.

They get on board without knowing where the bus is heading. They get on without money, or they get on drunk and/or dirty and smelly.  They get on with eight other loud, disrespectful teenagers. They use language that offends, not only the driver, but everyone within earshot. You know them. You've ridden with them.

But, chances are, you've also ridden on buses driven by angry, rude drivers who don't appear to be burdened by obnoxious riders. Instead, they are obnoxious, and the riders are burdened by them.  Oh, yes. You've seen these people behind the wheel, too, right?

Well, now, the agency is going to teach them to be more friendly.

"Hello, mam. Welcome aboard the No. 132. So glad to have you on my bus," they'll say. "Oh, and you're looking lovely today. I like that jacket!" 

"Let me take you to your destination, please," they'll offer with a smile. "Just sit back and relax."

Can you picture it? 

Rodriguez can, apparently. He told a City Club of Chicago luncheon crowd that he envisions a CTA where "all employees look at their job through the eyes of their customers," the Sun-Times reports.

Classes for cranky customers will follow soon, no doubt.

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