Speaking of the official city bird, Madison Metro transit service manager Ann Gullickson confirms getting two recent reports of bus drivers giving citizens the middle finger.
Both bird sightings took place June 10. In one, a driver saluted a car driver who cut him off while talking on a cell phone, then reported the incident to his supervisor before a complaint came in. The other, in which a driver allegedly gave the New Jersey greeting to a 15-year-old boy, is still under investigation.
In addition, a caller to the office of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz on June 14 reported getting a middle-finger salute around 2 p.m. that day. The caller was directed to Madison Metro but seems not to have followed through.
Gullickson says this particular brand of bad behavior would likely not lead to serious discipline, unless the driver has had trouble before.
Madison Metro has the ability to impose progressive discipline ranging from verbal coaching to one-, five- and 10-day suspensions, to termination, always a last resort.
Gullickson provides a spreadsheet of customer feedback (PDF), which tracks complaints by category. For fixed-route buses in the first three months of this year, there were 28 complaints of drivers being rude, 18 for "other driver conduct" and nine for "unprofessional conduct."
So which category does giving the finger fall into? "Any one of those three," says Gullickson, explaining that this judgment would be made by the person taking the call. "The good news is, it doesn't [happen so often] that it has to have its own category."