Bus operator facing termination opted to retire
TriMet has completed its investigation into the June 7 incident involving a bus operator and a mother and her four children on Line 57. What began as a fare dispute ended with the operator asking the mother and her four children to deboard the bus.
The operator involved, Claudeen Hendren, is the same operator involved in a similar incident last September. Following that incident, Hendren was given a final opportunity to meet customer service expectations in order to continue working for TriMet – meaning that she faced termination if a similar situation occurred. TriMet initiated the termination process for the June incident, but prior to the termination she instead opted to retire.
“This incident and how the operator handled the situation is not representative of the vast majority of our operators who deliver excellent customer service every day,” said TriMet Executive Director of Operations Shelly Lomax.
TriMet provides more than 102 million trips a year, and this type of incident is a rare occurrence that does not represent the customer service expected.
Investigation and findings
TriMet’s investigation included talking with the mother, a witness, the Forest Grove police officer who stopped to assist, and the operator.
- TriMet found that the operator did not respond to the incident appropriately.
- Since the September 2011 incident, Hendren had significantly improved her customer service skills, and received only 2 complaints related to customer service in 10 months and 1 related to operational issues, such as a bus not showing up or a pass up, which may be outside the operator’s control. Before the September 2011 incident, she had received 36 complaints in a 12-month period related to customer service and 5 complaints related to operational issues. TriMet had provided her with training, counseling and closely monitored her performance.
- Hendren was hired as a bus operator in 2001.
- No video of the incident is available. By the time the incident was reported, the video was already recorded over.
Following the September 2011 incident involving Hendren, TriMet began a programmatic approach to ensure the highest level of customer service by all operators including:
- Increased management oversight and intervention related to customer service issues.
- Hired a trainer focused on providing one-on-one customer service training.
- Increased number of on-board checks of customer service delivery.