TTC transcripts reveal surprise at decision to charter bus for mayor’s team
Coun. Rob Ford in his role as football coach with the Don Bosco Eagles football team on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010.
Published Friday, November 30, 2012 2:14PM EST
The TTC driver who unloaded a full bus of passengers to pick up Rob Ford’s football team at a west-end high school at the start of November told dispatchers she worried about being lynched by irate customers.
In transcripts of the calls made Nov. 1 -- released by the Toronto Transit Commission on Friday -- the driver’s superior tells her at 3:50 p.m. to unload her passengers and head to Father Henry Carr Secondary School, “to do a shuttle bus, okay … Just a shelter bus.”
“I can’t,” the driver responds. “I have a full bus, do you want these people to lynch me?”
The bus was called after a coach in a game between Ford’s Don Bosco Eagles and the Carr Crusaders got into a verbal dispute with the referee, who then suspended the game. School officials were reportedly 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 TTC requesting a bus to drive Ford’s players back to their school.
Police haven’t specified why they thought the coach’s altercation would escalate into a brawl.
Toronto police later reiterated that the decision was made by them and not the mayor, even though Ford called TTC CEO Andy Byford twice that day to make sure the buses were coming.
The transcripts don’t include the calls between Ford and Byford, but do show the TTC chief was unaware that a plan had been finalized until after a city bus was dispatched to the high school. He appears to have been trying to help them find a chartered school bus to use instead.
“I do need a vehicle to an intersection but I do not want to use a TTC bus,” he told Transit Control at 3:51 p.m.
Less than 10 minutes later -- and after receiving a school-bus company phone number from a colleague -- Byford seems to have changed his mind about sending a transit vehicle to the school.
“Could you try to see what you can do to get a TTC bus there as soon as possible to pick these kids up?” he tells Transit Control at 4:06 p.m. The control station then the TTC already had a bus on its way, to which Byford responded, “We do?”
In the end, two TTC buses were sent, and one returned to its route after the other picked up the players.
It is extremely rare for the TTC to act as a shuttle service in emergencies, although Toronto Transit often sends buses to disaster scenes to provide shelter to people forced out of their homes.
The transcript also shows that when the driver who picked up the players described the situation to the other driver, Jim Beran, he reacted with what seems like surprise.
“So we did a chartered run for them?” asks Beran.
“Well, that’s what the police told me,” responds the female driver.
“You gotta be… okay, that’s interesting,” he responds.
The incident has piled on more criticism to a series of gaffes that have dogged Toronto’s embattled mayor, who was ordered out of office this week for an unrelated conflict-of-interest breach. It appears Ford will have to run in a byelection if he wants to win back his seat.
Byford has apologized to the nearly 50 affected bus passengers, saying he was “very sorry” to those who were inconvenienced.