Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bus Driver Allegedly Pulls Into Traffic While on Phone

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.

Other items:
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)
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40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not surprising at all. There is no respect for the rules for a large segment of Metro employees.

WMATA said...

We did receive Brian’s email and immediately began investigating. We are confident we have enough information to identify the operator, who will be terminated.

As Brian did, anytime you have a complaint about your Metro experience, please let US know about it directly. That way we can document it, investigate the complaint and come to a resolution. We make that easy enough to do by internet and e-mail (http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/contact_us/ridercomment.cfm ) and telephone and postal mail (http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/contact.cfm)

We want to provide exceptional service, and you can help us do that by reporting issues to us via the customer service line.

When there’s a formal record, we can identify trends, and put fixes in place. Please help us as by providing as much information about the problem as you are comfortable with and telling us directly when you find something wrong.

Thanks

WMATA

Anonymous said...

Respect to WMATA for responding to the post so quickly.

Anonymous said...

Totally.

Converting A Spendthrift said...

Great job Metro!

Anonymous said...

I like the look on the kid with the book's face. Horrified.

Erika said...

Not quite as dangerous as this, but there was one time I was on a 32/36 bus along Penn Ave and the bus driver suddenly stopped the bus, got out, and started smoking a cigarette. When we all complained, he said "we're ahead of schedule anyway." Like the buses actually adhere to the schedule?! It was totally infuriating.

Alex Mullineaux said...

That is pretty cool that Metro reads this blog!

Anonymous said...

No, it's more like they pay attention to ABC News that asks them about it.

Liz P. said...

WMATA - It's great that you started investigating immediately, but it would be even better if you RESPONDED as soon as you got the e-mail and began the investigation. Otherwise, we don't have any idea what has happened to our report.

Anonymous said...

Yeah right. I have been riding Metro's subway since 1977. The ONLY time in all these years I got a reply to a complaint was when I emailed the entire metro board a few months ago. I got a reply then. A nice reply but no changes ever happened. What WOULD be nice if they would make the metro bus drivers on Wilson Blvd by the Ballston mall actually allow pedestrians to cross the street with the walklight. I've nearly been hit 5 times, each time along with several other persons. One driver actually flipped me the bird as he barrelled in front of my toes. With all "expected" due respect, tell me another WMATA.

Anonymous said...

Sure, everybody has some type of profile for their operator. Polite, dedicated to providing a safe ride, and knowledge of system to provide you with answers to your questions. Problem is, nobody wants to pay to attract this type of talent to also have to deal with the many numbnuts who ride the system.
At the end of the day, Metro is left to choose from ex cons, dropouts and the like to operate their trains and buses.
With all the hoopla about Metro employee are making obscene amounts of money, you'd figure they could attract some of the nice Starbucks crowd. I bet they are not making half as much pushing coffee. Well, they probably know that it is a miserable thankless job, run by equally talenless, ignorant, obnoxious managers who graduated from driving to upper positions by default.
You get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

No. I'm not buying that argument. You don't pay me enough to do my job professionally and safely? Doesn't work for me. You applied for the job, you took the job. If it doesn't pay you enough, you quit the job. But that is in NO NO NO way an excuse to slack off, misbehave or perform in an unprofessional manner. Nor is it an excuse for metro in terms of their responsibilities in checking employee backgrounds and monitoring employee performance. Period.

Anonymous said...

Sometime in winter a driver on the 4b to Rosslyn was on his cell phone, missed the route until a passenger yelled to turn- so what does he do- he backs up the bus on the street and then proceeds to make the left turn he had missed....

Anonymous said...

LOL!! Let WMATA chance places for ONE week with the New York City transit workers-- Let NYCTW drive OUR buses and trains, and let WMATA TRY to drive NYC's buses and trains -- and then let's stand back and see what happens!!

snicker snicker snicker

Anonymous said...

All the facts are in. Turns out your version of the event is quite far from the truth. Do you care to comment about this ?

http://dcist.com/2009/08/morning_roundup_so_sorry_edition.php

Let's get Metro Fixed said...

What part of Brian's story has been proved "untrue?"

Anonymous said...

Aww, poor Brian was momentarily inconvenienced by the driver pulling over, assumed the worst in the driver (who was actually trying to do something good), so took a snapshot and lied about the story to fit a version of events he liked better than fact... and didn't expect that he'd get called out on it. Another heroic "Citizen Reporter!"

Anonymous said...

How about we air out Brian's 'dirty laundry'. Be careful of who you're pointing at, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself. I do not believe in putting someone's lively hood in the hands of another through an email. Why haven't others come forward? Why does Metro allow someone to complain through an email (especially if an employee is subject to losing his/her job)? I think if it's a legitimate complaint, let the complaint be official with PROOF and a real signature.

Anonymous said...

WOW, all complaints and no solution. Typical Liberal-Americans!!!!! The driver did the responsible thing. She stopped and exit the bus to call headquarters and brief them on their inadequate equipment failure. You have give credit when people make intelligent decisions.

Anonymous said...

DC Metro driver Ronald Broady while driving Bus # 6434 side swiped my car at the intersection of Eastern and 16th (direct center of DC/Silver Spring county line)while smoking a cigarette and eating a bologna and cheese sandwich. WMATA Supervisor Derrick Tobias Employee # 004650 unit # 255 reported to the scene of accident - took pics and stated that he would view (bus)tape of accident for clairty. He did not collect the tape before it was erased nor did he turn in any pics he took while at the accident. Why is this man still driving a bus? Be ware he made be driving and turning his bus on a street near you! What is the purpose of having a camera on the bus if you do not view the tapes? Do WMATA not know that the bus drivers know that the tapes or not viewed or saved? This is why drivers are still talking on the cell phone and committing other offenses.

Anonymous said...

I was on this bus, and can confirm the driver pulled into traffic while still on the phone. She didn't drive very far.

Anonymous said...

Good for her--exonerated. Now people start working toward solutions to the problems.

Anonymous said...

you have to hand it to the union. indisputable photographic evidence of a driver talking on the phone while driving, and they still get her off.
wmata needs to stand up to the gangstaz.
if you don't believe me, read this story http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/11/AR2009081103563.html?nav=hcmodule

they're THUGS with a licence to do WHATEVER they want. deal drugs, put a hit out, go to kfc. it's out of control. ask any black man or woman.

Anonymous said...

It's kinda funny how you people are so sheepish. Yet arrogant, and self righteous at the same time. As far as the driver who was "said" to be driving while on the phone, once it was revealed that she was actually NOT driving, and was trying to get a mechanical issue resolved (one that would have been on this site anyway probably) LOL, you still would not let the issue go. It's like your behavior is sick. I ride the Metro, and have been doing so for the last 25 years. Does the transit system have things that can be improved? Without doubt! Just like any other public agency I can think of, but the hate, and attacks on the employee's seems to be something else completely. Psychopathic if you ask the people....LOL

Anonymous said...

i feel sorry for you believing anything wmata says. oh wait, you're probably a bus driver sitting in a kfc with your riders sitting outside. good job.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comment posted on July 30,there is no respect for the rules by Metro employees. I know first hand,I am a long time metro employee. I like my job ,I am not a disgruntled employee,I am frustrated!! I have 25 years at Metro and in the last 7 to 8 years I have seen it deteriorate into something I do not like. Metro hiring practices suck,point blank,the mid level management is filled with people who have no clue. I have seen people promoted into supervisory roles who couldn't perform their duties before being promoted! That is where the total disregard for the rules comes from. Once they are in a managerial role the people they worked with day to day KNOW the type of worker they were and just do not have the respect for that person. The union,now that's another story,worthless, protects the workers who screw up,does nothing for the people who DO their job. Longtime employees like myself now call WMATA an hourly welfare system. I see Metro's talking heads on the news and just want to scream !!!! John Catoe's head shouldn't be on the chopping block, this culture was already in place long before he got here. There is no accountability at Metro for the workers, it is almost impossible to get fired ! Jim Graham and the board need to really look into Metro's spending and waste, they would be appalled. Don't listen to the talking heads,talk to the men and women on the front line at WMATA. The board can talk to them,but WE are not allowed to talk to the media. The board and the media needs to dig deeper. Jim Graham do you see! Lyndsey Layton at the Post used to keep the heat on Metro, Lena Sun has picked up the torch now.. there are a lot of employee's who count on the media to uncover the stuff at metro. I do not work on the rail side at Metro,I work on the bus side as they say. Bus is worse then rail on many things,nobody thinks of the buses,lol. There is absolutely no oversight on bus, NADA! If the Metro Board only knew,get out of the Jackson Graham Building,show up unannounced,they hate that! Look at the bus side guys,you might even cut the spending and reel in the waste enough to roll back fares!!!!! That's no joke! Lift up the rocks,look under them Mr Graham. this is a longtime worker reaching out to the Metro Board for help. Bring this Transit system back to what it once was, one of the BEST in the country!!!!

Let's get Metro Fixed said...

@7:06am anon:

What do you think of the new hiring standards? Will they help?

Anonymous said...

I don't think they will help. Metro needs to change the culture to effect any change what so ever. Not all employees,but a lot of them just dont care.

Anonymous said...

If they don't care, then morale is low--who did that? Management. WMATA is very top heavy and it is clearly sclerotic and resistant to change.

Transit is a discipline with little academic prep available, and what is offered (Master's in Planning) is pretty much useless. The top mechanics know more about the running of the agency than the people with degrees. Of course, mechanics are routinely ignored during purchasing, leading to enormous waste. (This is all over the US, not just WMATA.)

I haven't lived in DC for 8 years. My memory of WMATA drivers is that they were smart and motivated, although there was a culture of keeping info from passengers. I figured that was a DC thing. ("If I told you, I'd have to kill you.") Maybe it's worse now. Knowing that neglectful and incompetence elsewhere in the organization put your life at risk as a Metrorail operator would certainly do that. I mean, come on guys, a rail operator recently DIED doing her job. We didn't sign up to be soldiers! (I work in transit in another state.)

It also makes me really sad that there are bus passengers looking to get employees fired for communicating with dispatch with their cell phones. Operating a radio is just as dangerous as using the cell phone, so why is one illegal and the other part of your job duties? Operating the fare box could cause a crash, too, but I don't see any movement to ban fareboxes. There are a lot of aspects of bus operation that could cause a calamity. Get real. And it seems like this operator was just trying to do her EFFING JOB so the passengers would get the hell out of her face. Oh goa'uld, imagine that.

I see a post above about a passenger preferring a robot driver. Yes, I believe you would. Drivers in the passenger's mind are never supposed to have to use the bathroom, need water, eat, take a break, or be late for any reason whatsoever. Of course, that fatal crash was caused by a catastrophic malfunction in the computer system, but never mind that...

And passengers, if you didn't cause delays by not being at the bus stop, dragging all your worldly goods onto the bus bag by bag, haggling over the fares, asking irrelevant questions, causing disturbances like drinking, smoking, or starting fights, trying to board with non-DOT wheelchairs/scooters, pulling the bell for kicks, screaming at the operator about your hernia pain or childcare pickup fees or whatever, and basically showing out, maybe the buses would be a little bit more reliable and the operators a little less frazzled and a little more friendly.

Anonymous said...

Its funny how people make comments about how unsafe metro is,but u idiots still ride! I mean u guys are so sick. You taking pistures of them,emailing on them u are doing anything u can to get these people FIRED. ALL yall low life ass people need to leave them the FUCK alone!!!!

Anonymous said...

U keep on complaining about metro! Quit riding then. Ppl complainin bout the buses makin to much noise when it goes pass their house . Suck it up bitch ppl got places to go n the bus is their only transportation. Now metro employees can't park at their workplace nemore cuZ dumbass ppl be complAnin bout dat shit. How r they supposed to get to work now FOOL????????

Anonymous said...

Bunch of assholes complaining about Metro. this is some funny poop.

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous! WMATA is the worse run organization. All the buses are always late. Just go outside or better yet look at NextBus info. Buses are early, late, no-show, drivers are rude, gruff, unhelpful, unknowledgeable. One time a driver said, "I only know where this bus goes." Don't ask me where else. There is ZERO accountability at WMATA.

Daisy said...

Today Wednesday, 3/23/11 is the worse ride I’ve had on Metro so far. I got on the green line at Branch Ave about 7:50; we arrived at Southern Avenue, stopped, and was told there were two trains ahead of us. After about 7 mins later we were told to off load (I do not know why). We got on the next train and once we were on we were told we had to get off at the next stop (Congress Heights) because no trains were running between Congress Hgts and L’Enfant Plaza. We were told Metro would provide buses for us from Congress Hghts to L’Enfant Plaza. We exit the station (did not have to pay) and once we were outside there were no buses available for us. After about 30 minutes (no buses ever showed) we were than told the green line was running again and we could go back inside the station and board a train. Well, needless to say the next train that came along was packed and only four of us were able to get at the spot where I was standing. Luckily I was standing right near a door. I arrived at work at 9:55; I should have been there at 8:30. But, things could have been worse. My mind goes back to the metro train wreck in June a couple of years ago, so I still feel blessed.

Anonymous said...

As a minority, I hate to say it but the metro system could be said to be worse now that the majority of those employed are minorities. That goes for management as well. I'm just saying. I am originally from NYC and remember when you never saw any public transit personnel except predominantly Caucasian. I am sure its the same here. I try not to use Metro rail or bus but occasionally I do. Efficiency and politeness are not the norm for them. To many Metro workers talking to other peoples husbands and wives and setting up dates. I bet some of the anonymous comments that are Pro-Metro are Metro employees.

Anonymous said...

I also wish something should be done to discipline your Metro bus drivers especially women.Yesterday on the 14/06/2011 in the afternoon bus going to Soweto,a lady driver called Jabu,just stopped the bus next to Helen Joseph and we thought maybe there is something wrong with the bus as we stood there for about 5-10 minutes and the next thing the lady in question stood in the middle of passengers telling passengers that people are talking about her to other people and those people come and tell her what has been said about her.She raised her concerns that some passengers want her to stop where she is not supposed to stop,some want her to stop at the corner of their work place.My main concent about this lady is,she is unapproachable,she is rude,she is moody,and sometimes out of the blue she is happy and you wonder what now.How can you approach a person that you see that she can bite you off any minute???.She went further and said she knows that yes her salary depends on us but if we have issues with her we must face her and if not face her outside maybe something will come out of it(doesn't that scare you as a consumer?)face a bullet that will strike you??.
My question to Metro bus is how is one supposed to be on your buses without feeling intimidated,are my rights as a consumer been respected,am I safe to be on her bus?and yes we know she is human but the way she speaks to people especially when they do mistakes,its a disgrace.She will scream at you the consumer for being at the wrong place without talking to you in a polite manner for you to understand.Is she angry at something or does she need Customer service training or Anger Management? Metro please tell me.You just do your rounds in the afternoon and see the expression on her face,I tell you as a passenger you will feel intimidated.People are afraid of her or even to complain about her in fear of their lives.You people are going to loose business because of her,or rather change her routs,let her go somewhere else.And if we could afford our own cars we wouldn't bother her with her company bus!I know some people would say take the next bus,but one does not have to have any fear in our transport industry.And yes if this comment comes to her attention,I tell you she will be at her dramatic styles in the bus like always.It is your duty as management to discipline Jabu or maybe you are also tired of her complaints and you just ignore them?What now?,maybe she is not happy about your company,maybe you need to start adressing issues which don't make your drivers happy at work or something.We are all human and we all do mistakes but this lady is too personal and she has issues,and her friends tell her what people say about her.Our President is not shaken by any critical comments and that shows Leadership!

Anonymous said...

Wow...what a bunch of self righteous bastards....Please would someone...anyone on this sight tell me how many times they have and still do talk on their cellphones while driving...NOT ALL AT ONCE...LOL..Putting anyones life endanger while working or when in your own car is dangerous and wrong...Now..tell me how many have been caught on camera...OK...Just because you have a chance to sound profound on a fucking blog...people take this self righteous attitude...whos life have you put in jeopardy...How would you like it if someone put you on camera everytime you did something stupid...and put you in a position to lose your job...clean your own house you miserable bastards and stop doing the shit you do in the dark while pointing the finger a metro employees...

Anonymous said...

The truth of the matter is...not enough white faces behind the wheel of these metrobuses..Metro will continue to get criticism until these good paying metro bus operating jobs are filled with different colored faces. Operating a bus anywhere is a dangerous and stressful job...The traffic alone is unbearable here in DC....that is why we don't drive to work... I guess the bus operators are to blame for that too..Delays in traffic happen to all of us...regardless of what the schedule says,and to be honest, with the behavior of the school kids along with the drunks and mentally challenged people who ride..it takes a certain kind of person to handle the stress. Having to teach people how to add money to their faircards, or fill out refund slips to the fuckups who haven't figured it out yet and all while driving the bus.If we didn't have these supposed thug bus operators...most of you wouldn't be able to ride or would need 24 hr security just to get to work...Then you could complain more about Metro's lack of security... as always damned if you do or damned if you don't. People are never satisfied. We want more protection from possible terrorists attacks on Metrorail, but do not want random security checks...LOL...people just like fuckin complaining...GET OVER ALL OF IT...If we work as hard at fixing ourselves as we do with fixing metro..T..I PROMISE...it will already be better...

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah...continue to take pictures..then watch the fares continue to go up so Metro can afford to investigate all of the overwhelming complaints and bogus allegations...

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