NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It has happened again – a driver caught distracted behind the wheel of an NJ TRANSIT bus and turned in by an irate passenger.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, the driver was spotted on a New York City-bound NJ TRANSIT bus. Passenger Vivian Ha’s picture went up on a commuter blog site on Friday, and she wrote that the driver “picked only the longest line at the toll booth in order to do some paperwork.”
This was the third documented incident of different NJ TRANSIT bus drivers reading or otherwise occupied behind the wheel this summer.
In mid-July, NJ TRANSIT received cell phone video from a passenger on the Route 137 bus out of Toms River that purportedly shows the driver looking at an e-reader while the bus was stopped waiting to enter the bus lane to the Lincoln Tunnel.
And earlier last month, NJ TRANSIT disciplined a bus driver who was photographed reading while he drove in stop-and-go traffic on Interstate 80 in Wayne.
“First, he took out a pamphlet, and he’s reading a pamphlet. And it looked like it was vacation pamphlet, maybe a trip – I’m like, ‘OK, it’s summer. This may be quick.’ He put it down,” said the commuter, who did not want to be identified. “Next thing, the driver takes out a hardcover book from off the dash.”
The woman said she took the pictures of the driver on the 324 bus during rush hour.
NJ TRANSIT riders were shocked at the repeated incidents.
“It’s a risk. It’s a risk for everybody that’s on the bus and for the people that are on the road,” said NJ TRANSIT rider Alex Arenas.
But the image also didn’t exactly come as a shock to NJ TRANSIT bus riders waiting for their ride home here at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. They seemed to think it was par for the course.
“(The driver) should be paying attention to what she’s doing, which is driving,” said NJ TRANSIT rider Ray Cohen. “I had a driver once who was swerving his bus trying to do paperwork.”
Paperwork, of course, is supposed to be completed at the end of a driver’s trip – not during it.
An NJ TRANSIT spokeswoman said an investigation is under way into the latest case.
“We share the concerns of the customer who brought this matter to our attention,” Carroll said in the statement.
Riders were unimpressed.
“Is it going to take a fatality? Is it going to take, you know, a horrible accident?” said NJ TRANSIT rider John Falcone. “I don’t know. I hope not.”
In the mid-July case, NJ TRANSIT spokesman Will Smith said a driver was disciplined at a hearing on Thursday for violating the agency’s rule against using any electronic devices, according to published reports.
In the first case involving a driver reading behind the wheel, NJ TRANSIT said it would take “swift and appropriate action” against the driver, but did not elaborate further.
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