The case of a Toronto bus driver who abandoned his vehicle and left passengers stranded for more than 20 minutes was “highly unusual,” according to Toronto Transit Commission chief Andy Byford.
The TTC says it is investigating the incident, which occurred on Eglinton Avenue West on Tuesday.
“It is concerning to me. We are a customer-service business and our job is to get people from A to B and under no circumstances should customers be left abandoned on any vehicle,” Mr. Byford said in an interview. “But what I would stress is this is highly unusual.”
The case came to the public’s attention after a passenger on the bus posted a video to YouTube saying that the driver had deserted the vehicle, stranding passengers for more than 20 minutes.
Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113, said the incident was the result of a “miscommunication” between the bus’s driver and another operator who happened to be nearby when the driver left the vehicle. The bus driver had come to the end of his shift and mistakenly believed that the other operator was the relief driver who was there to take over his route, Mr. Kinnear said.
“We exchange vehicles thousands of times a week and we do that successfully,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had this incident, which is a one-off that we do apologize [for].”
The TTC requires drivers whose shifts are finished to wait with their vehicles until relief operators arrive.
The commission said late Thursday that it had investigated the incident and “taken appropriate action,” according to spokesman Brad Ross. Mr. Kinnear declined to comment on the measures.
“We don’t discuss publicly the repercussions that any of our employees face. I can tell you that he’s been spoken to and appropriate action has been taken,” Mr. Kinnear said.
He also questioned why TTC supervisors did not spot the immobilized bus for more than 20 minutes, noting that they monitor surface vehicles remotely and do not hesitate to speak to drivers who arrive at stops a few minutes early.
He called the incident “insignificant” in comparison with other TTC-related issues seizing the city’s attention, such as funding and expansion plans.
Mr. Byford, who was appointed as the TTC’s chief executive officer in late 2011 on a pledge to increase customer service, said he believes that the transit agency has made strides in that area. “I think we need to keep this in context,” he said. “It’s one event too many, but it is only one event and we move 1.7 million customers every day.”