A bus operator contracted by Metro to shuttle Red Line riders around two closed stations this summer was caught on camera driving distracted, Metro’s largest union said.
An employee of ATU Local 689 recorded video of a bus operator on the phone while driving at the Fort Totten station about 8 a.m. Thursday, the union said.
Metro policy restricts operators from driving while using electronic devices and says such devices must be turned off and kept in a bag or purse, the union said. The discipline for a first offense is termination.
The union said it has taken 16 such discharges for review because of unique circumstances and has lost each case, including one in which a bus operator had his phone on him — because his wife was in the ninth month of a difficult pregnancy — but did not use it.
“The union strongly believes if Metro is enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on electronic devices, a carve-out for private contractors is unacceptable and dangerous to the riding public,” the union said in a statement.
"We have relayed this obvious and egregious safety violation to the contractor and demanded that the employee involved be permanently barred from providing any service to WMATA, in addition to what administrative action the contractor may take on its own,” Metro said in a statement.
News4 reached out multiple times to the shuttle bus contractor for comment.
The union recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike. The workers have been without a contract since July 2016.
The Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland stations on the Red Line are closed through Labor Day. There is no Red Line service between Fort Totten and NoMa-Gallaudet. Free shuttle buses are running between the four stations.