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Don’t drive workers to distraction

2012-11-07 15:49 Global Times     Web Editor: Zang Kejia comment

The huge popularity of microblogging has made citizen reporters of many ordinary people. And now a local bus company is further encouraging the city's bloggers to take on the role of impromptu photojournalists.

Shanghai Ba-Shi Public Transportation Group is offering rewards to passengers who photograph or video bus drivers who are either violating traffic laws or are contravening company policies.

Examples of misconduct include using a mobile phone or smoking while driving, running a red light or driving on the wrong side of the road. This pilot project will be rolled out among the corporation's more than 570 bus routes around the city.

And one Shanghai resident, surnamed Ling, became the first recipient of such a reward when he filmed the driver of a No.817 bus chatting on his phone for several minutes after getting on the bus on Xizang Road North in Zhabei district.

Ling was sat behind and to the side of the unlucky driver and he also managed to capture the employee's work number printed on the coin-collection box. And after Ling alighted, he went to the back of the bus and snapped the vehicle's license plate number.

The bus company was convinced by Ling's "evidence" and gave him a 50-yuan ($8.01) transportation card as promised.

The general manager of the company, Xu Jie, explained to local media that many residents complain about the unprofessional behavior of certain bus drivers and that this does damage to the city's public image, besides putting passengers in danger.

However, I wonder if placing drivers and passengers on "opposing sides," so to speak, is really the best way to tackle this problem. After all, 50 yuan is a very tempting prize.

And it is all too easy to envisage a situation in which passengers, phones at the ready, avidly scrutinize a driver to see if they can catch him "red-handed."

And how do we imagine this would make the vast majority of law-abiding drivers feel?

This hypothetical - but all too probable - situation hardly makes for friendly relations between passengers and the men and women supposedly serving their interests. Nobody wants to be cast under the eye of suspicion, and there is a sense here that these transport employees are being unfairly judged before they have done anything wrong.

We need to encourage positive and friendly relations between citizens and public employees.

And I believe that if workers are taught the importance of being mindful of passengers' needs, they are more likely to moderate their behavior, and to rectify any bad habits.

A step in the right direction is that transport companies have recently announced drivers must wait for people they see rushing to catch their bus, and this is to be applauded.

And let's not forget that many bus drivers already go out of their way to protect their passengers. Just last week, a 54-year-old driver, Wu Lifang, took on a knife-wielding man and, along with some other passengers, managed to subdue him until police arrived. Wu suffered a broken breastbone for his trouble.

It is this kind of co-operation that we should be encouraging between citizens and transport employees - not sowing the seeds of mutual mistrust and suspicion.

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