It's not easy being a top-drawer transport bureaucrat. One day it's not enough trains, the next day, it's too many passengers.
These very real transport challenges aside, every now and then, the unusual and bizarre aspects of public transport appear, such as the correspondence that crossed my desk from the improbably named Barking Mad. They are animated by the belief that pet owners have a 'right' to use public transport and other public spaces (like parks, beaches, etc) with their pets and that the rest of 'us' need to accommodate their needs.
They also seem to believe that, since 88% of disabilities are invisible, public transport operators need to allow people with 'companion animals' on to their vehicles, with not a lot of evidence that they are trained appropriately or otherwise not a hazard to others. Oh and also that the monolithic 'we' of the transport world need to change the Transport Act to take the needs of pet owners into account.
What is interesting is that Barking Mad underline the way that the world of disabilities is not one big, happy special needs family. In my work, I've become aware of a very real hierarchy of disabilities. Many deaf people don't believe they're disabled, they just use a different language. The wheelchair people are fighting off the demands for 'their' spaces on trains, buses and car parks from the morbidly obese and elderly who use 'gofers' and other motorised mobility aids. And of course, every other disability group hate the blind (thanks to all those top bloke diggers blinded by gas in WWI, the Blind Pension in Australia is the only disability pension without a means test).
Yes, dealing with nuffies who think their choice to own a dog means the rest of us should shove over is just part and parcel of the rich and varied life of a public transport bureaucrat. In times like this, I refer to the wisdom learned from the Basil Fawlty school of management: "This transport system would run perfectly well without any passengers".
Of course, in the light of record high patronage and overcrowding on public transport, how we're ever going to get people with companion animals on board is another question all together...