Treat the public transit workers with respect

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Editor-in-Chief

Something that I have observed that has become increasingly more prevalent in the past few months is passengers on public transportation being disrespectful to drivers and employees. I’ll have a few examples of different behaviors that I have observed before making a desperate plea for people to treat these employees with respect, but if you’re going to skim this article then I beg of you to take away one key point: be respectful.


One of the most egregious things I’ve seen happened a few weeks ago. I boarded a T at First Avenue, en route to see experimental rap group Injury Reserve. The train did not move, and an announcement was made that there was an issue with the train and we would have to get off. Almost everyone on the train shrugged and got off the train.


One person, who I would refer to with a word I am not allowed to print, began yelling about how “this is what happens when you come Downtown” and “Downtown is such a (another word that I am not allowed to print)-hole.” He then began spitting on the train. 


I’ve been in a lot of situations where I have been personally wronged. I have never felt the need to spit on someone or something. I mean no disrespect to Harry Styles, Chris Pine no doubt deserved it, but the train did not.


Another thing that I have observed is people yelling at transit workers when they themselves did something wrong. A few months back I (as I often do) boarded the T at First Avenue, this time riding it outbound. As I got on, a large family got on. First off, at the time masks were still required, and of course they were not wearing any. The real issue arose when they missed their stop.


After about ten minutes of riding on the train, one of them asked the driver when they were supposed to get off to go to Station Square. The driver politely informed them that they missed the stop. The family began yelling at the driver, which personally shocked me. An announcement saying “next stop, Station Square” was made immediately after they got on the train.


The reason I was so surprised by this behavior was because the family was objectively in the wrong. They made the mistake, and yet they still decided to lash out at an employee providing a wonderful public service that thousands of Pittsburghers rely upon daily. Why is it the employees fault that you failed to properly prepare yourself?

I’ve seen similar things to this happen when big events are going on on the North Shore. On the way to the Backyard Brawl the train was filled with drunk people arguing, and one person yelled “what stop am I supposed to get off at.” Luckily, someone responded with “you should have figured that out before you got on the train.” Then, the train got stuck because too many people were on it, and rather than get off the people crowding the entrance began yelling back at the employees, placing blame on them.


This exact same thing happened after the Elton John concert. As people were boarding the driver said “please don’t block the exits and fill in to the train.” Then, when the train was too full they made a follow up announcement: “please stand clear of the exits.”

Someone then started yelling “so you say fill in but not to block the exits… that doesn’t make sense.” I found this hilarious, because it actually does make perfect sense. The logic of filling in the train and not blocking the exits lines up perfectly. In fact, the two things go directly hand in hand. This person was either intoxicated or unintelligent, but decided that despite everything they would yell at an employee.


Above all else, there’s really no reason to yell at someone working ever. You aren’t their boss, and you always end up looking like (a word I’m not allowed to print). So I plea to you, dear reader, treat your public transportation workers with respect. They’re pivotal to our city, and to our lives. Even if you don’t ride public transportation often, many workers you interact with in your day to day probably do. So ask yourself: “without the T, where would you be?”