Public Transit Claims Rider’s Dignity

This winter the motion sensor doors, installed on many Grand River Transit buses, have claimed another victim: the dignity of some riders.

“It was embarrassing”

Ahmed Matherson, 43, requested a stop, and proceeded towards the backdoor. When the bus pulled up to his stop he waved his hand in front of the door, moved it up and down with his palm open, and even pushed on the green sign, all to no avail. The bus moved on and the same thing happened at the next stop, and the next. A line of people all trying to get off grew behind him. “It was embarrassing. I felt embarrassed by my door incompetence,” said Matherson, “I started to doubt my own existence, you know? If I can’t operate a motion sensor door, am I a real person? Do I have agency? It was a really dark moment for me.”

From the Public Transit Board of Ontario 2009 report on Existentialism among riders. Recent polls indicate numbers may be higher than shown.

From the Public Transit Board of Ontario 2009 report on Existentialism among riders. Recent polls indicate numbers may be higher than shown.

Existential Crises

Matherson, it seems, is not alone. A 2009 report published by the Public Transit Board of Ontario has shown that GRT riders show a higher than normal levels of existentialism among riders in comparison to other cities in Ontario. The Tri-City area scored a whopping 13 on the Camus-Hamlet Scale of Transit Induced Existentialism. The next closest transit area was Greater Sudbury with a score of 10. Oddly, the Owen Sound Transit system scored only 2.5, indicating either it’s riders are more mentally resilient, or simply that it is not used. Dr. Maria Goldbaum of the Lyle S. Hallman School of Social Work at WLU told The Honk “I dealt with many existential breakdowns, on a monthly basis, all through the winter. So much so that I have developed Motion Sensor Therapy.” The therapy mainly involves walking through the main door of Dr. Goldbaum’s office, but she says she also plans on working with a motion activated light she found in a basement washroom. “These are very exciting times in Motion Sensor Therapy!”

GRT Response

This is not the first time people have been stuck on a GRT bus because of dysfunctional doors. Two years ago 23 people were trapped for several hours on a bus. No one was available for comment from the GRT, but they did say in a generic email that the motion sensor doors are slowly being replaced by doors with push bars, which they hope will alleviate the problem. Matherson, however, is not as hopeful. “What’s the use of it all?”

What do you think? We’d love to hear from you, just write out your thoughts in the comment section below.


2 thoughts on “Public Transit Claims Rider’s Dignity

  1. Wait until the light comes on.
    Then wave left and right crossing the vertical motion sensor beams.
    I decreases my calm when people don’t get how motion sensor doors work.
    It increases my calm when I give someone the simple tip after it doesn’t work, and then *poof* it works.
    GRT would do better by improving the instructional decals to be more informative. It might also save on door repairs from angry travelers who start punching and hammering the door in frustrated futility.

    Keep calm and wave on!

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