Metro Brings Back Fired Bus Drivers

Drivers fired after fatal crash, punching incident reinstated

By Peter Orvetti
|  Wednesday, Jun 9, 2010  |  Updated 12:16 PM EDT
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McGruff Puncher Gets Metro Job Back

NBCWashington.com

A woman is struck by a Metrobus in northeast Washington.

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Metro opens doors -- to bus drivers fired for misconduct.

The Washington Examiner reports that a driver fired after his bus crashed into a minivan taxi carrying a family of four, resulting in the death of the father, has been rehired. Ditto a driver fired for punching a police officer dressed as McGruff the Crime Dog.

The Examiner said the driver involved in the fatal crash is “getting paid to sit at home while the agency determines where to place him.”

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said Metro believes driver Ronald Taylor “ran a red light and we define that as a major preventable accident. Unfortunately, the arbitrator saw it differently.”

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 wants him back behind the wheel. And yes, he is also getting full back pay. (It is worth mentioning that Taylor “was not charged with any crimes or citations, and the arbitration panel did not find enough evidence that he ran the red light,” as the Examiner reports.)

In the second case, Shawn Brim was fired after he pulled over his bus and punched an off-duty police officer in costume as crime-fighting McGruff. He was fired for violating Metro’s workplace violence policy and later found guilty of simple assault. But the arbitration panel voted him back on the job, with back pay except for a 30-day suspension. The Examiner reports that union president Jackie Jeter “said his actions had been intended as a joke and had nothing to do with his driving ability.”

Asked about the two cases, designated neutral arbitrator David Vaughn said, “The awards speak for themselves.”

You’d think the words of one Metrobus driver would also speak for themselves. Amanda Hess of Washington City Paper wrote last week that on May 14, a Silver Spring high school student boarded a bus that takes her to school every morning. From the City Paper: 

"She sat near the front, catching the attention of a driver she had never seen before. His remarks quickly turned sexual: ‘You look really sexy…you have really big breasts,’ he told her. After asking her age, he said, ‘You really don’t look like you’re 16.’”

According to a report taken by Metro Transit Police, an officer responding to a complaint filed by the girl’s family determined the identity of the driver, and, Hess wrote, “also mentioned that Transit Police had received ‘four to five other complaints’ in the same vein.”

So far, Metro has taken no action.

These are just a few of the more serious incidents in the ongoing Metrobus follies. Unsuck D.C. Metro has a few Twitter gems from just one night on “the new Metrobus, where drivers ‘go to work every day cognizant of their responsibility to perform a job on behalf of our customers – the riding public’”:

@sknightschultz Bus driver almost hit a motorcyclist and then ran a red light. #wmata = safety
@hyrcan #Wmata offices closed will call tomorrow about S1 bus #2155 unsafe/illegal right turn which nearly ran me over.
@HemenMehta Did my #Metrobus driver just hit on another driver while waiting at a red light? Yes.he.did. #ohnohedidnt. #wmata
@danielleRwest Think the D6 bus driver has a hot date. Ran a red light and appears to have applied some Brut aftershave. #fb #wmata 

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