UPDATE 2: From Metro: "On Tuesday, July 28, a Metrobus operator since April 2007, was alleged to have been using a cell phone while operating a route 63 near the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metrorail station. During the investigation, it was determined that the bus operator used a personal cell phone to report a mechanical problem with the bus. The internal Metro investigation revealed that the bus was stopped and secured when the operator communicated with Central Control and she did not operate the bus while on the phone. She has been re-instructed regarding operating procedures and returned to service." Two other drivers were not so lucky. Stat tuned. This story is not over.
UPDATE: There’s some hubbub this morning (8/13) about the bus driver a user of this site, Brian, alleged was talking on her cell phone while driving.
The hoopla centers largely around the nature of the call, which, according to reports, appears to have been professional. Brian made no speculation about the topic of the conversation.
As reports today indicated, the driver appears to have been in an uncomfortable, yet non-emergency, situation: A bus destination sign wasn’t working, there was no response to her radio calls to central, and passengers were getting increasingly angry being left in the lurch.
Yet the bottom line is Brian said the driver was still on the phone while pulling into traffic. He has not amended his version of events and denies he was asleep, as has been alleged.
In DC, no one is allowed to operate a vehicle while talking on the phone, and furthermore, Metro has a “zero tolerance” policy about such behavior.
The WTOP story says Metro is “struggling to determine whether the driver should be punished.”
We bet they are.
From former Red Line rider Brian who alleges his bus driver was talking on a cell phone while driving*:
I caught my bus driver using her cellphone while driving Tuesday. I was riding the 63 from Takoma as I do every morning now that commuting on the Red Line is a mess. When we got to the stop just outside of the Petworth Metro station, our driver got out of the bus and started talking on her cell phone. One minute goes by, 2 minutes, 3 minutes ... and she's still talking on her phone. Passengers start getting very angry. One, in particular, steps outside and yells at the driver to get moving. Yet another minute goes by before the driver bothers to get back on the bus. And she's still talking on the phone.
If I were smarter (and more awake), I would have caught this moment on video, but she sat down and pulled out into traffic with phone to ear, and drove several hundred feet before ending her call. I got a crappy picture with my cell phone. It was the best I could get from my vantage point. If you zoom in on the driver, you can see her holding up a phone to her ear with one hand and pulling out into traffic with the other.
I contacted WMATA customer service via email between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, and I still haven't heard back from them. Given their new zero tolerance policy, you'd think a complaint of this nature would have thrown up major red flags. Nope. Twenty four hours have come and gone, and I still have no response. WMATA is once again showing what a completely incompetent organization it is.
*It has been illegal to drive and use a cell phone without a hands free device in the District since 2004, according to the Washington Post. Even if this had been, say a family emergency, it seems like the driver could have told her passengers politely that it was a call she had to take and that the bus would be moving shortly.
Metro to tighten the penalties on rule breakers (WMATA)
Crash investigation focuses on 30-year-old electronics (WaPo)
Catoe again lying or ignorant (Examiner)
Bus driver charged with kidnapping (WaPo)