Muni Passenger Who Caught Driver Texting Said He Was Threatened

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — A passenger on San Francisco Muni said he was threatened by an operator after he recorded her texting while driving a bus.

Shawn Higgins rides the 24-Divisadero bus to his jewelry shop in the Castro District. In late February, he shot video of the driver in the mirror, using an iPhone in her lap.

“I went to go film it, and I sat down across from her and she stopped doing it,” Higgins said. “So what we did, we filmed it in the mirror.”

Higgins said he confronted the Muni driver and told her to stop because it is illegal to text while driving. Then, the driver pulled the bus over, forced Higgins and his husband off the bus, threatening never to pick them up again.

“That is clearly not proper procedure,” said Muni spokesman Paul Rose. “Obviously, an operator does not have that authority on who they can or cannot pick up. And if that did happen, that’s not acceptable.”

Rose said the driver denies forcing Higgins off the bus and threatening him. The driver has been punished for texting while driving with a 3-day unpaid suspension. If caught again, Rose said the driver will be fired.

This latest incident comes as Muni answers questions about a door on the L-Taraval train that malfunctioned and stayed open during rush hour last Friday. In both instances, improper procedure was cited as the problem.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • SOMAtwocents

    There is no reasonable excuse for a Muni driver to be texting while driving. It is against the law for all drivers, private and commercial. Why is this driver given a second chance for flagrantly violating a safety regulation and California state law. She should be fired immediately. Most Muni drivers are safe, courteous, law abiding folks providing a much needed service. It only takes a few behaving badly to reflect on the whole system. Let’s weed out the worst.

  • Bobby Jordan

    LOLOLOL!! What time of day did this occur? May i ask?

  • MM

    If she is caught again she will be fired. That is a bunch of BS. She deserves to be fired immediately. I’m sick of MUNI’s union. The workers get paid too much and the entire service is a joke.

    • steve

      get your head out STOP crying about peoples pay unless they are making millions people deserve a decent wage you idiot just putting up with stupid people like you talking about a job and a wage you know nothing about.
      Next you will want to take away peoples time off why not educate yourself and improve your own wage fool

      • Alex

        Sorry, but MUNI is an incompetent organization and their employees make way too much money for what they do. It is a government agency, as a result citizens have every right to criticize their actions and their pay, especially when the pay is above what someone in that position would make in the private sector.

      • evangenital

        put the crack pipe down.

  • Bobby Jordan

    Ok, Watched the video. I cant believe shes still employed. Was she fined $159.00
    Actually Ive seen worse. Who cares what was said between them after. Im sure both sides were inappropriate. The fact is…Shawn caught her in the act. FIRE HER
    Robbie should have got up and slapped her with his heels.

    Shawn, i hope business is so good you can get a car.

    You go Shawn!!!! Ah? I think you should get that car buddy.

  • robots will kill

    @ MM, I second that!

  • Claudia

    What’s new…I ride the Muni buses every day, and many, many drivers are talking on their cell phones or texting while driving. Taxi drivers do it to,, while speeding with passengers in the back seats, no less…they are endangering customer’s lives every day and don’t give a hoot. FIRE THEM IMMEDIATELY!!

  • Steve

    Heck yeah this is not proper procedure. How can she watch the road when she is looking down at her phone! 3 day unpaid suspension is not enough…it should be longer. If she has done this whole texting while driving in the past, then SHE SHOULD BE FIRED.

  • MW

    Firstly lets do it by the book. The driver needs to be investigated if found at fault then throw the book on her and suspend her. Lost of money to bay for her phone will do the trick. The workers do not get paid too much. I would not want to get paid to deal with some of the rude passengers of SF. Those who talk should try to drive a bus in this city in the worse traffic, weather and patrons. Then respond if the operator deserve their share. Don’t forget the lousy equipment they have to deal with because some politician made a deal with the purchasers and the manufacturers. They get no protection and they are abused a lot. Try being a driver and walk in their shoes for a day or two.then decide.

  • JaneQPublic

    WE THE PEOPLE pay if a Muni driver crashes and injures or KILLS other people because of their wanton disregard for safety. The injured – or next of kin can rightfully SUE Muni for hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars depending upon the extent of injury and/or disability. Who pays for that? We the public, that’s who! And we the public have a right to DEMAND this driver be TERMINATED! I would also suggest reporting this reckless driver to DMV. She cannot continue to drive a bus if her commercial driver’s license gets yanked. Nor should she.

  • JaneQPublic

    PS If Muni doesn’t give a rat’s hiney for SAFETY, maybe the bottom line – $$$$$ – will mean something. And if this driver is allowed to drive, iand later causes injury in the course of her employment as a driver, MUNI is LIABLE for PUNITIVE damages for wrongful employment. ARE YOU LISTENING, MUNI?????

  • webfairy

    She put other people’s lives in danger! She should have been put on leave until they confirmed the video, and then FIRED! Period! Her job is to drive and be responsible for the safety of her passengers! How would she like it if her doctor texted while operating on her? Ok, so give her another chance and if she kills someone then fire her. Ya, right!

  • JaneQPublic

    I think it’s time to take a HARD LOOK at Muni MANAGEMENT if this is the kind of thing they tolerate. Maybe the driver isn’t the ONLY one who needs to go….

    Webfairy makes an excellent point about the hypothetical doctor texting while operating.

  • Justin Goble

    its not just muni drivers texting its also the public and the police . it dont matter what time a day it is if a cop drives by me or i drive by the they are either on a cell phone talking or texting . i also see city workers doing the same

  • Harry Martin

    The Muni Mafia, aka, The Muni Union.

  • John

    Whats with the “his husband” thing? I didn’t know same sex marriage was legal in CA?

    • Jonathan

      Approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages are still legally recognized by the State of California because they occurred during a time when it was legal under the law.

  • sfsmskater

    The operator served only a 2 day suspension, and one of those days served was on her regular day off.

    • sfsmskater

      Correction, the operator has yet to serve her 3 days. She filed an Workers Comp claim right after the incident.

  • tn

    Who’s running the show- the government or the Muni union? I would have loved to view and listen to the procedure violation meeting between management, the bus driver and the union. What a joke. Now every Muni driver or employee gets a free 3 day pass if or when caught texting while driving. It appears they’re above the law, rules don’t apply to them, and feel public safety is way over-rated.

  • tn

    Proper procedure- Muni labor dept reviews situation while on 3 day unpaid probation. Muni terminates employee for misconduct. Muni driver hires union attorney and sues city, Muni, AT&T/Verizon mobile phone company and the patron who taped the incident and gets a “settlement” to go away. Taxpayers foot the bill. Another administrator’s job is saved from layoff.

  • Sofa Kingdom

    3 days unpaid suspension? I say this calls for a citation. And with her class B license, I’d say she’s no longer eligible to drive a bus.

  • Purple Unicorn

    Muni should put a price on the offending drivers’ heads. Offer a reward for videos/photos of the drivers caught texting, and everyone with a cellphone camera is going to have their eyes on them.

  • CMV

    she MUST be fired for texting…no second chances for endangering passengers.

  • Guv

    I was on the 10 Townsend a few weeks ago and the driver was yakking away on her phone, held up to her ear. It was a dead tie for whether I was more 1) fearful for my safety 2) annoyed because of her blatant disrespect and disregard for the rules 3) annoyed again because her conversation was loud and ridiculous.

    There are lots of fantastic MUNI drivers out there, for sure, and I get them more often than not. But the ones that suck suck pretty hard.

  • Guv

    Ha!!! I just reread the name of the guy who filmed it. Shawn sold me and my wife our wedding bands and her engagement ring!! Too funny.

  • Dayenu

    Another reader commented on KTVU’s report and said: “That driver is now suspended again — with pay — while she awaits a termination hearing.”

    Call it severance pay and be done with it. Firing for cause means NO unemployment checks either.

  • Muni Driver Caught Texting Faces Termination « CBS San Francisco

    […] February 27th, commuter Shawn Higgins recorded the driver in the mirror, using an iPhone in her lap. Higgins confronted the driver on the texting, but said she forced him […]

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