JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An Action News Jax investigation has uncovered a fired JTA bus operator was reinstated, despite being called “unsafe” by a now-former supervisor.
Action News Jax started digging into records of all JTA drivers to see if there were any safety concerns after a rider was killed and another bus was hit by a train just weeks apart.
Records show that, in the last two years, 79 bus operators were fired for failing to follow safety and security rules and procedures.
Eight drivers appealed their terminations, but only two got their jobs back.
Jean Silney was reinstated in January. In June, Silney was fired after Jeanie Rozar, a local mother, was dragged and run over by a bus.
Action News Jax is choosing not to name the other bus operator who was reinstated because she’s still employed by JTA.
Records show the bus operator was terminated after a collision in March, in which she made an illegal left turn onto Myrtle Avenue from Houston Street.
The report said the front bumper and curbside mirror of a JTA bus were damaged after the bus struck the curb, causing chips in the concrete and knocking down the bus stop sign.
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The report said that, as a result of the incident and numerous Class B violations, Silney was fired.
Through JTA’s collective bargaining agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union, bus operators have the right to file a grievance to be reinstated.
The ATU appealed the discipline on behalf of the bus operator, but the first grievance was denied.
In an email, a now-former JTA supervisor wrote, “It is crystal clear that she [sic] is an unsafe driver who has accumulated seven preventable accidents, and two preventable incidents over her five-year career.”
The case was then contested to step two of the grievance process, in which the president of the Jacksonville Transportation Board acknowledged the collisions and incidents were “preventable” but “minor in nature.”
A decision was made to overturn the termination and the opportunity for additional retraining and oversight of the driver was granted over a 60-day period.
The bus operator had a review with a behind-the-wheel trainer that concluded on Friday.
A JTA spokesperson said that, based on the results of that review, it was determined that she was still not performing her duties to the highest abilities and was placed on hold-off status.
A JTA spokesperson said the driver’s overtime hours were also scaled back, which the Jacksonville Transportation Board President said likely contributed to her collisions and incidents.
JTA CEO Nat Ford said he has confidence in the company's training programs to identify and correct any issues that may occur behind the wheel.
In a statement to Action News Jax, Ford said, “In this case, after significant efforts to correct issues through training, we placed this bus operator on hold-off status as we evaluate next steps.”
Hold-off status means the bus operator is not currently driving.
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