Deke/Patrick's Note: Please remember to click on anything underlined, as it represents a musical gem you might enjoy as an interlude while reading my posts. Each link will take you to a tune I have enjoyed while writing here, and also offers artistic value to these words offered. Meanwhile, thanks again for reading. It's been a while since I wrote this. It took some editing to remove the more-offensive remarks and replace them with hopefully more constructive criticisms of the world we roll within.

After years of being punked by our former management, it's difficult to fully praise the new regime. Sam has had two full years to address changes necessary before Portland transit once again regains its worldwide excellence. His grade to date: C+. This is an improvement over his two predecessors by far, but he had a chance to improve to even an A- if he keeps listening to US rather than depending on his corporate leanings. Having met Sam and had a brief discussion, I remain hopeful he will surpass my naturally-skeptical feelings toward those who have occupied his current position.

Transit still fails to honor a full third of its workforce even more than its entirety. Any shift that begins after 3:00 p.m. is lost to the bankers' hours of transit management is largely ignored. Corporate hours. It fails my shift every "Transit Worker Appreciation Day", and any or every other honor bestowed upon its vaunted "full" workforce. If you don't fit within the Six-to-Five time slot, you simply don't count, unless you appreciate wilted leftovers. Night shifters collectively snort derisively every March 18, because it's evident our nightly efforts have never been part of this supposed "appreciation".

My bedtime is their alarm clock, my own signals the late afternoon they are winding down items on their "ToDo" lists. As I mutter my daily Mantra prepping me for another stressful shift no telling what will happen upon, they're texting the spouse regarding upcoming dinner plans. As they dine, I'm suffering the trials of rush hour traffic and heated disputes between transit management-pampered passengers. My life exists on a plane entirely opposite the time clock as those who are tasked with "managing" me. 

As usual, the rubber-on-the-road workforce understands how transit works, from the ground UP. Instead of finding a more enlightened, "woke" (ha! there's a word for ya) management eager to reward us for the nightmare we just endured as "heroes", we're given a somewhat better version of what decimated our ranks during the pandemic. So many quit or retired in disgust over how we were treated during a worldwide pandemic, this agency had to offer a $7,500 bribe to entice people to work here. The worker shortage was so severe that, coupled with a sharp decline in ridership due to the fear of disease, transit had to sharply reduce service.

Now the pandemic has eased, management has an influx of new operators and Portland's high-end workforce dynamics have changed from office-based to remote. The service industry has amped up the past year, but it does not equal the massive numbers who once commuted to and from the city's core. One only has to tally the amount of empty storefronts and "For Lease" signs on once-bursting office buildings to see how our Central Business District has been perhaps forever altered by the devastation caused by a nearly-invisible virus. 

* * * * *

Having survived my fling with the 'Rona, along with multitudes also-afflicted, I wonder what happens next. This past year, many of those just a few years senior to me have died due to Myocardial Infection. Supposedly, they were so-vaccinated as I am. Is this what my next few years offer? Am I to perish as my dear brother Bill's classmates did because they accepted the "jab"?

"Just a little pin prick. There'll be no more... AAAUUUGGGHH (RIP Richard Wright)! But you may feel a little sick."

We remained loyal to the job through two years of a pandemic once compared with the Black Plague yet fizzled in comparison. Its wake left a battered economy with the working class once again impoverished and frightened. Instead of rewarding our continued dedication falsely echoed in the empty phrase "Heroes Work Here", you used that money replenishing a workforce chased away or fired through heavy handed tactics. 

Management has a new head who has offered (and delivered some) promising changes, but mid-management seems locked in a cycle of annoying incompetence. For example, one major top spot changed hands in the past year.

The new department head was reportedly thrust into a position with little or no documentation to ease their transition. This left them with the monumental task of building an entirely-new department upon one that had existed, in place for decades with reportedly no plans for a seamless transition to new leadership. This is plainly unheard of on so many levels of any management scheme. Even this blue collar worker of five decades has the ability to see how vital it is to communicate from one generation to the next. Isn't the need for continuity an obvious stepping stone to success? A given to any logically-thinking mind? Evidently, more emphasis is placed on "capital improvements" than internal competence. 

Like I've always said, the higher you climb, the less oxygen is available.

As a result, at least one merit-based operator awards program has been stalled the past eight months while mid-management finds its own ass again. In Corporate America, this incompetence would not be tolerated. Each management position should be constantly evaluated, its methods and procedures documented for smooth transitions between directors. However, transit is rarely held accountable for its errors, while Operations personnel are often micromanaged and expected to pamper the trouble-causers and fare evaders who consistently make miserable our lives on the road. Where transit actually W-O-R-K-S.

Meanwhile, the "Bored of Directors" simply nods its collective bobbleheads at whatever is droned upon them every month. Anyone with disparaging remarks is limited to 180 seconds before "Sorry, your time has expired, we need a nap now." The day one of these governor-appointed do-nothing dipshidiots decides to grow a pair and actually look into what their agency is actually doing, I'll attempt a naked handstand at Pioneer Courthouse Square. (This spectacle might garner more notice than my last public speech there which was cut short by an oversight of my own union "leadership" who had promised me five minutes then cut it to three because they forgot their own promise.) The possibility of either occurring are about as remote as politicians avoiding a chasm of free money.

* * * * *

WE are transit's long-heralded heroes. 100+ years of Bus and Rail Operators, Station Agents, Trainers, Maintenance Workers, Road and Rail Supervisors. WE MAKE TRANSIT WORK. This remains the ultimate truth.

Pandemic aside, we endure whatever erupts before us. Concurrently, Management usurps our collective glory because it controls the media message. My vain attempts to convey the blue collar version pale in comparison to management's. They have allowed me to write simply because they are more powerful. My humble words simply whisper wind instruments where its own bellow the major horns.

* * * * *

Then there's the local "special interest groups" who stomp their feet whenever transit attempts to adopt measures to limit ridiculousness on our rides. Lately, it was the meager fare increase which caught the whiny bitches all a Twitter. FORCE the tweakers to pay a penny more for their already unenforced-free ride, and woe to you! How dare you insist upon a pittance more for the best deal on a 24-hour ride all over town! Of all the nerve!


We DESERVE to be honored, therefore, EVERYONE should PAY for transit. You could charge $10 for a day pass and it still would be for decades, the best deal in town. Try hiring a taxi, or Uber for such a deal. Ha! 

I am profoundly exhausted by this whiny bullshit about how the poor are "unfairly" fared. Through my experience, Working Portland PAYS THEIR FARE. The pampered losers, failed drug addicts, drunks and other ne'er do wells FAIL to (no matter their skin color), yet are advocated for and protected by the most obnoxious. (OPAL, you garner NO respect from this transit worker who ferries your vaunted victims.)

Where are YOU, GREAT PORTLANDERS WHO PAY YOUR FARE WITHOUT WHINE? Pony up to offer some cheese to those who refuse! Please, SPEAK UP! You DESERVE to be heard above the whine of the thieves! Those who WORK for a living seem to have the faintest voice wherever "fare" is discussed.

To "OPAL" and any other special interest groups for the lazy, drug-induced fare evaders of Portland, I say go away, shut up and stand down. As a transit bus operator, I see what is what. Those who work, pay their fare. Those who live off the system and fail to work or pay taxes and choose to "live off the grid", do NOT. There are THOUSANDS of fare-paying Portlanders who are sick of you standing up for the LEAST of US. Why can't you STAND for the honest and upstanding working-class who deserve a voice?

You whine about Fare Inspectors being "unfair" about "fare" yet ALL passengers are required to show paid fare, NOT just those for whom you allegedly advocate. Those who WORK, pay. Those who slack, EVADE. You know it's true.

Those of us who provide the service deserve infinitely more respect than your whining offal offer. Show US the respect we deserve for providing thousands of safe miles EVERY day we drive a bus, operate a MAX, LIFT or Street Car. We have provided Portland millions of safe miles over a century. What have your addicts contributed? Absolutely NOTHING of value.

We're working our collective ass off, paying exorbitant taxes and enduring attacks on working class decency demanding we bow down to the losers in life as our own lives suffer. What about US? Get a grip, and stand behind those who resist addiction amidst a world of horrors to power vast economies in every metropolis across the globe, rather than drain those who drive them.

Gallons of whine without the slightest bite of cheese: that is ALL you have to offer. You may have big hearts, but your brains are suffering a major malfunction. You celebrate the grifters, which insults those who work two to five jobs simply to support our families. We're not likely to feel sorry for the slackers who believe their "right to get high" beats our "right to fair pay for a hard day's work". Most of us were raised by parents who believed this, yet some believe that is "old fashioned bullshit". It’s still true and should always be so.

Honest and decent Portlanders PAY their fare, and deserve the BEST we have to offer. The freeloaders/drug addicts/troublemakers deserve NOTHING, for they contribute the same. Let us move forward and beyond. Throw them in jail or ship them back from where they came. Hard-working Portlanders are tired of losers trashing our streets and openly doing drugs where tourists once freely-enjoyed our cherished Portland.

Therefore, I say to TriMet's "Bored of Directors": go beyond what you recently voted as a Fare Increase. Raise the 2.5 Hour Fare for Adults to $5.00; the Honored and Youth two hour and a half passes to $2.50. Make Day Passes for Adults $10 and Honored/Youths $5.00. It far surpasses the value of a taxi or Uber ride. Meanwhile, multiply the number of Fare Inspectors on buses and rail 500%. Ignore the whiny advocacy groups calling my brother/sister Fare Inspectors "Nazis". Such insulting bullshit should result in equally-aggressive enforcement. It would be a sign to your dedicated workforce that our services are more valued than the freeloaders' trouble causing antics we daily endure.

Until you have driven half a mile with bus or rail operators, your complaints register multiple ZEROES with US. Those whose skin color is darker than mine are collectively more fare-compliant and much less trouble-causing than those whose complexion more closely resembles my own.


We MOVE Portland. Thanks for riding.

Love, Deke N. Blue


  1. Love this. Love this. Love this. Thank you.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! I am completely over the “I’m going to ride at my own risk”. I’ve decided to start telling them that doesn’t exist. It’s called theft of service. So what your saying is I will be stealing this ride!

    1. A former operator I Line Trained is now a Fare Inspector Supervisor. He told me today the FI's numbers have more than doubled. The slackers of Portland transit are in for a surprise next time they "ride at my own risk". Hurray!!!

  3. You're 100% right on....thank-you!

  4. You never fail to communicate effectively. I wish they’d listen.

  5. Sorry but the bitchiness of your rant overshadows some of your more valid issues. Not everyone is employable. Your unkind remarks aren't helpful.

    1. Maybe, but he told me once he writes after driving. Its a bitch of job and he might just be blowing off steam

    2. I'm sorry you can't understand the spot I write from. Perhaps if you could roll a mile in my seat, you'd understand. Meanwhile, thanks for reading. Not ALL my posts are so dark, but what I see every day tends to drain my soul. Hang in there... I firmly believe humanity is on the upswing again, especially mine. I've been too far down for too damn long.

  6. Couldn't stop thinking about this post yesterday. I ride trimet at least 5 days a week to and from work, and on some weekends to the store. If the price was raised to the level you suggest it would be more than I could afford. I understand some of your frustration. But some of the stuff you said made.me.feel spiritually ill. I wish you well.

    1. I am so sorry to have hurt you with my words. However, one person's feelings need not darken your own. Once upon a pre-Covid time I had a fun streak when I wrote here. Nearly 11 years into the job after what I've seen and experienced, my outlook went very dark. Please understand that I write these posts after extremely difficult shifts, which tend to color my words with intense shades of black.

      Your comment has followed me these weeks since you graciously put forth your heartfelt comment. Thank you for being honest about how this post made you feel. It's a writer's greatest reward, and often my deepest regret to realize when my words cut too deeply. Remember, please, that I am not anything but someone who loves intensely, sees more than I want, and feel great pain in a job which puts me in contact with every segment of society as each disaster engulfs us. It's difficult to separate joy from a constant barrage of anguish. My words aren't meant to wound; simply to describe the view from a bus operator's seat... hence the name of this blog.
      Thank you for reading, and I hope to give you reason to continue visiting FromTheDriverSide. Bless you with peace and safety wherever you go and whoever you meet along the way.
      Love, Deke

  7. Just picked you back up, Deke N. Blue, again after a long reader's absence. Probably dropped off after you voiced your writer's burn-out sometime in the past. Glad to see that you recovered from that and still feel the compulsion to vent!

    As a former operator of 2010 vintage, I get the frustration that's felt about fare evaders. (For many of my driving years, it was how evaders gamed the old Fareless Square situation.)

    The big picture stuff to me is how a Trimet fits into a remote work reality. And I think we're all driving blind with this new scenario. Will a system that assumes that downtown is the transit hub fit the new realities of so many people remote-working and staying out in the 'burbs? Is fare pricing elastic and will the modest ridership recovery suffer if fares go up? And it's still the case that employment taxes provide the bulk of Trimet funds, not the farebox.

    Trimet operators rightly felt unappreciated way back before the 2008 Great Recession. Some things repeat forever. But there are ok GM's and some that have been truly dreadful. I hope you're in an upswing period.

    1. So happy to have you back, thank you for reading again! It's been a tough slog, knowing when to "vent" and how to do it escape me now 10+ years into this blog. What propels me is that people still read these words. How this writer can still connect with those who actually care about the job is a challenge.
      Anguish is the norm for today's bus operators as we navigate the "new norm" which is absolutely NOTHING like any of us could have imagined pre-Covid. Today's Portland demographics have changed so drastically the transit agency has major changes coming for the Fall 2023 Signup. Many routes have been abolished, swallowed by others to supposedly improve efficiency. My own route changes this time for the first time in my career, having swallowed another.
      As for feeling unappreciated, I do not get that from my passengers. While the CellPhonEra has seen them go deeper within themselves, they still thank me on the way out the door and several recognize my attempts to make their commute slightly more bearable than normal.
      Once again, thank YOU, and everyone else who lingers on to read my less-often and sporadic attempts to portray one bus operator's life in the seat.
      Peace, and safe travels wherever you may roam.
      Love, Deke

  8. well, the enemy doesn't travel by bus at all, paid or unpaid -- the enemy travels by limousine.


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