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TTC passenger Alexia Schell took this photograph of a driver using a mobile phone behind the wheel of a bus on January 25, 2010.
TTC passenger Alexia Schell took this photograph of a driver using a mobile phone behind the wheel of a bus on January 25, 2010.

Two TTC drivers caught texting behind the wheel Add to ...

The TTC is now investigating two cases of bus drivers caught texting behind the wheel, the transit agency says.

Photos have emerged of two operators appearing to type away on BlackBerry-like devices this week - one on the 165 Weston Rd. North bus, the other on the 54 Lawrence route.

Alexia Schell, a Scarborough mother of two, snapped the picture on the Lawrence bus around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday after watching a male driver whip out his BlackBerry four or five times during a 20-minute trip.

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"I tell all my friends, 'Don't text and drive,'" said Ms. Schell, who was travelling with her one-year-old son at the time. "I'm against it because it's very dangerous and people could die. That's why I took [the picture.]rdquo;

Another rider photographed a different driver texting on a BlackBerry-like device while he ferried a busload of passengers on the 165 Weston Rd. North bus Wednesday afternoon.

The passenger submitted the picture to the Toronto Sun, which published it Friday.

"We will take swift action here," said Brad Ross, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission. "It's a public-safety breach."

Mr. Ross said management has identified the driver on the Weston route. Mr. Ross wouldn't release his name or say how long he'd worked for the TTC because he didn't want to jeopardize the discipline process. The driver faces possible penalties, "up to and including dismissal."

Bob Kinnear, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, said he doesn't condone texting while driving "in any way shape or form."

"Public safety and our employee safety for that matter is paramount to our organization and we continually convey that message to our members," said Mr. Kinnear, who represents nearly 10,000 transit workers.

However, he said the union is legally required to defend both drivers during the discipline process and intends to do so.

The latest photographs come more than a year after a picture of a snoozing TTC collector unleashed a wave of public fury over substandard customer service on the transit system.

Some of that fury was pent up from the end of 2009, when the TTC rationed tokens to curb hoarding ahead of a 25-cent fare hike.

The sleeping-collector photo inspired copycats to snap pictures and videos of TTC drivers taking extended coffee and bathroom breaks.

Mr. Ross pleaded with passengers not to repeat that behaviour this time.

"We just don't want customers getting on buses and playing gotcha with our employees," he said.

Instead, he encouraged riders who catch drivers breaking the law to write down the bus and route numbers and call the TTC directly.

"What's frustrating about it is this is not a true reflection of the men and women that provide transit in this city," Mr. Kinnear added. "The vast majority of our members do a diligent job, operate their vehicles as safely as they possibly can."

Ms. Schell said she hasn't filed a complaint directly to the TTC.

"I don't really see the point now since [the picture]is out there," she said. "I've never really been much of a complainer. ... I don't want to get someone fired. I'll feel bad about that."

The TTC created a blue-ribbon panel last year to improve customer service. The TTC is scheduled to discuss a progress report on the panel's recommendations at the next commission meeting Wednesday.

 

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