Former bus driver: MTA doesn't train enough - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Former bus driver: MTA doesn't train enough

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A former city bus driver, blamed for causing a serious injury to a pedestrian, said the Metro Transit Authority's failure to train and retrain is partly to blame for so many accidents made by city bus drivers.

Two other former MTA drivers also made the same claims to the Channel 4 I-Team.

MTA spokeswoman Patricia Harris-Morehead said Dujuan Thompson was not a good employee and is now a disgruntled former employee who has made a number of false allegations.

Thompson was featured in a Channel 4 I-Team investigation along with other former and current MTA drivers with histories of driving violations who were still allowed by MTA to continue driving.

Thompson was sued, along with 25 other MTA drivers in recent years, for causing accidents that injured other people, a Channel 4 I-Team investigation found.

On Jan. 15, 2007, Thompson was driving a MTA bus and was accused of hitting pedestrian Larry Hamilton.

"He (Hamilton) will have to have another total hip replacement, at least one more, during his lifetime," said C.J. Gideon, Hamilton's attorney.

A Channel 4 I-Team investigation found just 11 months before hitting Hamilton, Thompson was fired by MTA for driving on the shoulder of Interstate 65 and talking on a cell phone.

Yet 30 days later, MTA hired Thompson back.

"He routinely violated the basic rules, and they didn't do anything," Gideon said.

Despite the incident, Thompson said he was fine behind the wheel of a bus.

"I feel like I'm a safe driver, I use every caution necessary," Thompson said.

Thompson said he didn't hit Hamilton, but instead, Hamilton walked into his bus.

And Thompson said as for driving on the shoulder of the interstate, something that is not allowed for any driver, he was taught to do it.

"No one ever told me, that's how I was taught. I was taught to get around, keep the bus on time on any means necessary," Thompson said.

Thompson also claimed that MTA doesn't do extensive training or retraining.

Two other former MTA drivers made the same claims to the Channel 4 I-Team.

Both former drivers gave examples that MTA does not teach drivers how to handle multiple distractions.

Thompson said even after driving on the shoulder, he never went through retraining and said the MTA did not train him to be a good bus driver.

"They did not train me as well," Thompson said.

A spokeswoman for MTA and the Davidson Transit Organization, which actually employees the drivers, denied our request for an on-camera interview.

But that spokeswoman did email us and stated MTA has an intensive eight week training program for new drivers and additional refresher training.

Thompson also pointed out that internal disciplinary documents, obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team, show that MTA bus drivers can have four minor accidents and two major accidents, before they're ever fired, as long as those accidents are not within a year of each other.

When the Channel 4 I-Team reviewed the case files of the drivers with questionable accident histories, we found as long as their accidents didn't happen within a year of each other, the drivers were still employed.

"I've heard about accident, after accident, after accident. nothing was done to them," Thompson said.

MTA does have the ability to fire a driver over one single serious accident, including a fatality or serious injury, such as the pedestrian Thompson is accused of hitting.

Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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