Bus riders say drivers using cellphones
Complaints include drivers running stop signs and missing stops
Halifax Metro Transit receives about a complaint a month about its bus drivers talking or texting on cellphones, CBC News has learned.
Documents obtained though a freedom-of-information request show there were 14 complaints over a one-year period ending Oct. 31.
In one case, a passenger tried to get off a bus, but the driver was on the phone and missed the stop. The passenger tried to get off at a second stop, but the driver skipped that one too. When the bus finally stopped, the passenger got jammed in the door.
Other complaints involve drivers running stop signs, cutting off vehicles or speeding while using their phones.
Lori Patterson, spokeswoman for Metro Transit, said there are more than 300 buses on the road every day in the Halifax region, so the number of complaints is low.
"They were followed up, and based on the circumstances, some of them weren't able to be corroborated. If they were, there would have been actions taken and I'm not aware of any specific action taken in the past year," she said.
In most cases, it's a first-time offence for the driver involved. Patterson said Metro Transit monitors that driver to ensure it doesn't happen again.
The punishment ranges from a letter on a driver's file to dismissal. In the last five years, at least one driver was fired for using a cellphone inappropriately, Patterson said.
"It's very rarely that we hear about it. We have a zero tolerance policy for operators driving and texting or using a cellphone or a Bluetooth, and all of our operators are aware of that," she said.
Ken Wilson, president of Local 508 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, declined an interview with CBC News, saying the complaints were a personnel matter.
However, he said he didn't know of any suspensions in the last year.
Patterson said it's possible that some people mistake a driver's hand-held radio for a cellphone.
Drivers are allowed to use the radios to contact the communications centre.