TTC suspends driver who took unscheduled break
Published Thursday, February 4, 2010 2:06PM EST
The TTC has suspended a bus driver after a video showing he took an unscheduled break surfaced on the Internet. It is the latest photographic evidence of rule breaking by TTC employees that has infuriated transit users who were already dealing with a fare hike that greeted them in the New Year.
On Wednesday evening, rider Reuven Politi posted a seven minute video on Youtube that shows a night bus driver stopping at a coffee shop near Finch Avenue West and Wilson Avenue.
He says the driver went to the bathroom and got a drink while riders waited on the idling bus with doors open around 3 a.m. on Friday.
On Thursday morning, the Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union issued a statement saying that the driver has been suspended pending an investigation.
It said it will not comment while the investigation is active.
While it's not uncommon to see bus drivers who are ahead of schedule to idle their vehicles, Politi claimed the bus was already 15 minutes behind schedule and says the bus driver has taken similar unscheduled breaks in the past.
The video shows Politi asking another passenger if the driver normally takes breaks on this route, and the passenger nods yes.
The TTC apologized and said it is unacceptable for drivers to leave passengers on a running bus. TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said a bathroom break should only take about three minutes, not seven.
"You don't have your lunch break mid-route with customers," said Ross.
"If you need to use the washroom…tell your passengers on board the vehicle what you're doing."
Riders told CTV Toronto that drivers on a number of routes take coffee breaks all the time.
"Sometimes we are hurrying from work and then we're waiting for 15 minutes just because they're getting Starbucks," one woman said.
The latest employee caught in the act
This is only the latest photo snapped by transit riders of TTC workers who appear to be slacking on the job.
A series of photos sparked anger among riders already fed up at what they call poor service, and rude employees.
Two weeks ago, a now-infamous photo of a TTC collector sleeping in his booth at McCowan station went viral.
Another collector was snapped snoozing at Union station a few days later.
Customers were already lamenting a very unpopular January fare hike, which increased the cost of a one-way trip to three dollars.
The TTC recorded 31,000 complaints between January and November 2009, 15 per cent more than the same time period the year before.
Last month, the TTC announced it was hiring private consultants to help improve customer service.
On Tuesday, the transit commission launched a test version of an online trip planner, and riders complained it did not work properly.
New photo shows driver reportedly smoking
Meanwhile, a CTV News viewer submitted a photo he says shows a streetcar driver illegally smoking on transit commission property.
The photo shows a driver standing next to a 505 streetcar at Dundas West station.
The driver is holding something up to his face. CTV viewer Joseph Regalado says it was a cigarette.
The TTC's bylaws say smoking is not allowed on TTC property and anyone caught will be fined $195, plus a provincial surcharge of $35.
Regalado tells ctvtoronto.ca that the driver should be fined.
"If I got caught smoking I'm sure I'd get a fine," he said.
"I think it should apply equally across the board."
TTC spokesperson Ross said the commission could discipline an employee who is caught smoking.
"We have expectations with respect to customers not smoking on TTC property. Everybody pretty much knows that and our employees know that as well," he said.
Discipline is considered on a case by case basis and depends on the employee's record.