Police: Mayor Ford had no role in calling in buses for football team
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford heads to a press conference in this file photo. (The Canadian Press/Michelle Siu)
Published Tuesday, November 6, 2012 5:10PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 6, 2012 8:30PM EST
Police confirmed that a recent decision to have two in-service TTC buses help transport Mayor Rob Ford’s football team was made by them, not the mayor.
Supt. Ron Taverner from 23 Division clarified the circumstances that led to two city buses kicking off passengers and rerouting to a local high school so that the mayor’s football team could be picked up last Thursday.
According to Taverner, officers at a Nov. 1 football game between Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School and Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School became concerned about growing tensions between the opposing teams.
After a particularly contentious call, a coach on the field became irate and got into a verbal dispute with the referee, who then suspended the game.
School officials were worried a fight might ensue if the players waited for a school bus to arrive, so a sergeant at the game made a call to the Toronto Transit Commission requesting a “shelter bus” come pick up Ford’s players.
Taverner said the sergeant who made the call stressed that Ford had no say in the decision.
"At no time was the mayor involved in any of the decision-making with regards to a bus being called. It was our officer, our sergeant who made that decision out of community safety concerns," said Taverner.
TTC control then rerouted an active bus to pick up Ford’s team, the Don Bosco Eagles.
However, when the bus failed to show up after 20 minutes, Ford called TTC chief Andy Byford to ask for help with the bus, said the mayor on Monday.
When the first bus got lost, a second bus was sent to go pick up the team.
Ford has denied any involvement in rerouting the buses.
Byford held a press conference on Tuesday to further explain the incident.
He said that during the initial call with the mayor, he could not hear clearly due to bad reception but heard the mayor say something about a “brawl” and a “football field.”
Byford said after checking with transit control he called Ford and told him there was “no way” a bus would be sent solely on the mayor’s call.
He also said he had reviewed the TTC protocol used when a shelter bus is requested by emergency services and was confident that the protocol was “sound.”
According to Byford, when a request is made by emergency officials for a bus, like the request made on Nov. 1, the TTC first tries to get a bus from a shelter. Only when there are no available shelter buses, will an in-service bus be called in, he said.
"If they ask us for a shelter bus I don't think it's right that we should challenge them on it. They are professionals. They know what they're doing and I think that we should always accommodate such requests."
Byford apologized to the nearly 50 affected passengers, saying he was “very sorry” to those who were inconvenienced and asked to get off the buses.
With files from The Canadian Press