• July 29, 2014 3:01 PM

Apologetic letter from TTC bus operator tells full story of the "red light incident"

TORONTO, July 29, 2014 /CNW/ - ATU Local 113 is asking TTC management to give a "compassionate penalty to the Bus Operator who was fired yesterday for running a red light on Eglinton. The incident was captured on video and posted on YouTube. The union is releasing a letter the Operator wrote to TTC management before she was interviewed and fired. This letter had no effect as she was fired by the TTC.

"We believe that most people, if they knew the full circumstances of the incident would be willing to give this single mother of two a second chance, if not as a vehicle operator then in a non-vehicle job at the TTC," said Bob Kinnear, President of the 10,000 member union.

"The Operator wishes to remain anonymous because she is deeply embarrassed by her error and also because she has two children she does not want to burden any more than has already happened because she lost her job. We hope the TTC will reconsider."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

To TTC Management:

On Monday July 21, 2014, at approximately 9:32 a.m. I left Kennedy Station travelling westbound as 34 Eglinton bus. I had passed Kennedy Road heading towards the next intersection, which is Ionview Road and from what I could see as I passed over Kennedy there was no one waiting at the bus pole ahead so I would have just continued through at that point as the light was green at the time.

However, I wasn't close enough yet to see if the light was counting down but as I got closer I noticed what appeared to be an elderly person sitting inside the bus shelter. So I pulled over to service the stop but did not come to a complete stop. I took my foot off the gas and pumped the brakes while approaching to see if this person was going to head out of the shelter because maybe they didn't see the bus coming.

This person didn't get up so as I was going to continue on, I noticed a bus had already crossed the intersection in the left lane and I thought traffic was still moving. But I quickly glanced up and noticed my light was red just as my front end was approaching the line. The light must have changed to amber while I was pulling over into the bus lane to see if the person in the shelter wanted the bus because I honestly didn't see it change. I caught a glimpse of the red last minute just before I crossed over.

Because of where I was when I noticed the light I didn't feel that I could have stopped safely without ending up in the intersection regardless. I decided to go through, I changed lanes to merge back on to the roadway to the curb lane because that lanes does not continue ahead but noticed that a pedestrian was waiting to cross. I couldn't take the chance that she saw me so I immediately sped up a bit to get right over into the middle lane to avoid her in case she stepped on to the road. I never once took my eyes off her as I crossed that intersection.

I feel absolutely awful about this incident. Driving a bus is challenging and I am well aware of the dangers. I would never intentionally run a red light just to make time or anything like that. I unfortunately assumed my light was still going to be green and had no idea it had changed until a second or so before I crossed it. I so wanted to stop but I didn't know how far out I would end up so I made a split second decision to go straight through rather than trying to stop abruptly.

I am truly sorry from the bottom of my heart. This was an unacceptable lack of judgment on my part by not noticing the light but I was at the commitment point by the time I saw it. I did the only thing at that point to avoid it be speeding up to go around her. I understand the seriousness of this incident and accept whatever penalties you must enforce. I do love this job, the people I service every day and those who make me realize what it means to be here. We all make errors while driving whether it's our own vehicles or someone else's. However, driving the bus we are always in the public eye and under scrutiny.

When I learned of the footage of this incident I immediately felt sick to my stomach so I decided to write this so you have a formal statement from me explaining what and why it happened. Bottom line is that it shouldn't have happened but it did and I am so grateful the outcome of my error ended the way it did. I just hope I will have the opportunity to remain here and prove to you that I am more than capable to do this job and that I can continue to improve and grow.

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

For further information: Bill Reno, 416-223-7366