Muni Driver Caught Texting Faces Termination

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / KCBS) — Termination proceedings have begun against a San Francisco Muni driver who was seen texting while operating a 24-Divisadero bus.

On 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 and his husband off the bus and threatened them.

KCBS, CBS 5 and San Francisco Chronicle insider Phil Matier said the incident begs the question, why didn’t the transit agency investigate Higgins’ video earlier? Matier said that they didn’t even request to see the video until it showed up on TV newscasts.

“Why didn’t Muni follow up with Higgins and ask, ‘Do you have a video of this? Bring it on in and take a look,’” said Matier.

KCBS’ Phil Matier:

A Muni official said the driver was punished for texting with a 3-day unpaid suspension.

Earlier this week, Muni had to answer questions about another commuter-shot video which showed a door on a crowded L-Taraval train that stayed open during last Friday’s commute. The transit agency admitted operator error in that incident, and said it will take disciplinary action.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • ptown

    And I lke the other story on the web page that there’s a “campaign to limit MUNI driver salaries”…why in the world would you do that to these fine employees. Arent a third of all MUNI employees out on a Workercompensation claim? The city of San Francisco deserves these fine city empoyees..better thier city than mine!!! LOL!!

  • The TruthPlease!

    I HOPE CBS doesn’t let this (and other incidents) get swept undr the rug by just firing the texting driver who lied about it. Procedure was NOT followed internally by Muni’s pathetic ‘investigation.

    1) failed to call in the precipient WITNESS,
    2) FAILED to ask to see the video,
    3) accepted apparently at face value the driver’s (lying) excuse that she had a ‘family emergency’ and had pulled the bus over to the side of the street while she was texting.

    Seems like there was gross negligence and/or favoritism by Muni ‘investigators.

    This DEFINITELY needs to be INVESTIGATED FURTHER by an OUTSIDE (neutral) AGENCY – perhaps the Dept of Transportation?

    There is something VERY FISHY at MUNI!!!

    • anon

      yep family emergency my ass. It takes almost no time for law enforcement to get text message records from the cell carriers – and does not cost them a dime (costs the carriers). That is what all of the fine print in a contact is for (I used to sell phones )
      Cannot agree with you more – and I have had numerous drivers pass my stop (i pulled in plenty of time), and then claim they were driving too fast to stop. I look young, but am disabled and not one driver ever lowers the bus for me, or even tries to be nice. I cannot see very well and at night it is even worse- drivers do not read the stops out (and the led signs rarely work).
      Wish I could make that much money any day. There are a lot of good operators/drivers, but way more horrible drivers that make muni more trouble and fear of my life than it is worth. And may I add, the supervisors at the West Portal station are total idiots. Most of the time I just walk to mile to Bart to avoid Muni.

      • Jason

        You’re correct, they are incompetent.

        If you take a photo at West Portal station of a non-human subject while by yourself using anything better than a camera phone you will be harassed and equated to a terrorist. They can’t seem to grasp that some people enjoy photography as a hobby and find the transit system that they use nearly everyday to be an interesting subject to photograph.

        This experience is true for just about anywhere in or adjacent to MUNI stations but from my experience the people running West Portal station are the worst.

  • JaneQPublic

    Makes me wonder if the ‘investigators’ and/or supervisors who gave the offending driver a very LIGHT slap on the wrist (essentialy a NON-penalty) are RELATIVES or FRIENDS of the driver. Hmm…sure sounds like it

    • Chloe T.

      Being FIRED is not, “a very LIGHT slap on the wrist!” What should they do, kill her, put her in prison? Lol

      • Josh Stewart

        I think JaneQ was referring to initial the 3 day suspension, not the termination that followed the surfacing of the video.

  • Bus Rider


  • JaneQPublic

    Thank you Josh – the mock 3 day ‘suspension” was exactly what I referred to.

  • S

    Matier’s question is like trying to ask why this didn’t happen then based on some ex post facto info from today. Whos (us) to say that Higgins even mentioned anything about a video or even filed a complaint about this on Feb 27th. We can’t even be certain that Higgins told management about this video or that management knew anything about it until it showed up on the TV newscasts

    It is a waste of time trying to figure out why this or that didn’t happen back then because you cant anything about it, so i think the effort should be focused on prevention. Drivers should know better.

  • TheTruthPlease!

    @S Hence the need for an INDEPENDENT outside agency to investigate what was known, when was it known, by whom was it known – and was it properly handled. We are talking about PUBLIC SAFETY here – if management failed to follow this up, then not only is the driver grossly negligent, but her supervisors as well. Or perhaps you think this sort of thing is just fine? You may be willing to tolerate this, but I doubt the riding public wishes to do so.

    By the way, it is NOT Ex Post Facto if management had that complaint in February, which it looks like they did or else they would not have even given the driver the supposed 3 day suspension. Ipsi dixit!

  • Rich

    I’ve see cops talking on cell phones with no hands free device on more than on occasion.

    • Sofa Kingdom

      I disagree with the no talking on cell phone law. Texting is much much more dangerous. The law should say if you are driving like an idiot while you are on the cell phone, you be cited/lose your license.

      • Adry

        Hi Sofa Kingdom, You are right. I hardly ever talk on the cell phone when driving (not even with a headphone, blutooth, etc…). I think it is not the matter of holding something in your hand that takes away attention, it is the matter of concentrating on the talking, texting. So, if they say we should not be holding things in our hands while driving, they should ban eating, drinking, smoking, etc… while driving. I do not agree with that law either, even though I almost never used my cell phone while driving anyways.

  • Sofa Kingdom

    Smoking should be illegal while driving too. I’d much rather drop the cell phone when I need my hands. But I wouldn’t drop a cigarette. Those are expensive and it burns.

  • tn

    The dance: 3 day suspension pending investigation. Employee terminated after investigation. Terminated employee finds employment attorney and sues Muni, her manager, the passenger who recorded her use with the iPod, the Union, ATT/Verizon, Apple, and the attorneys settle out of court. We, the taxpayers, get to foot the bill.

  • tn

    correction: iPhone, not “iPod.” Plus, the Muni driver probably lied saying she was “ill” and was texting. How stupid?- she’s sick enough to continue driving and texting because she wasn’t feeling well? Oh, and there are passengers on her bus that she’s responsible for, let alone the pedestrians and other motorists. Imagine that.

  • Henry

    The last paragraph is correct. From the California Vehicle Code:
    23123. (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.
    (b) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.
    (c) This section does not apply to a person using a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, including, but not limited to, an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services agency or entity.
    (d) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using a wireless telephone while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.
    EDIT: The “no personal calls” prohibition does not seem to apply to emergency services professionals – the only requirement for “exemption” is that they’re operating an “authorized emergergency vehicle … in the course and scope of their duties”. It doesn’t say that the call itself must be related to their duties – just the operation of the vehicle.

  • jon

    Terminate that driver.

    A driver who neglects public safety, and then threathens her passengers, should be fired.

    Cheaper than having SF face a major lawsuit, should that bus crash because of driver error.

  • curious

    Rules are rules. Laws are laws! Driver is not mad she was texting, she’s mad she got caught. If your job is on the line…the phone goesin your bag till break or your off! I am curious if the hero, Shawn is worried name is public? Thanks for being a standup citizen and protecting yourself and others. REMINDER: the horrible, deadly train crash on Southern California a few years back. Many lives list….why??? Drive was TEXTING!!!

  • john bob

    All a bunch of racist white folks who would never ever work as a bus driver.

  • Get Off It

    @john bob – I’ve not seen ANY article which disclosed the race or color of the driver or anyone else involved. Looks like YOU are responding to something existing in YOUR head. It’s a cheap shot and it’s getting old & tiresome.

  • Muni Texter Found Driving Again Despite Suspension « Muni Texter Found Driving Again Despite Suspension « CBS San Francisco

    […] Muni officials saw the video, the transit agency recommended termination and placed her on a non-driving […]

  • Muni Texter Found Driving Again Despite Suspension | All of California

    […] Muni officials saw the video, the transit agency recommended termination and placed her on a non-driving […]

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