© Nathan Liewicki
A city bus drives south on Town and Country Drive Thursday. The actions of one Moose Jaw transit driver, stemming from an incident Tuesday, is still under investigation.
The City of Moose Jaw’s Transit Division is still investigating an incident in South Hill Tuesday afternoon.
According to Mark Sture, the city’s transit manager, a bus driver was transporting approximately 20 students from Main Street North to South Hill when an issue arose.
“There were some students that were annoying the driver, constantly ringing the bell,” said Sture. “After ejecting everyone from the bus at one of three stops along the route, the driver took three individuals back downtown where they were met by the Moose Jaw Police Service.”
If the wind chill is factored in, temperatures Tuesday afternoon were around -35 C, and those students who were forced off the bus were left stranded in frigid, winter weather.
One of the students prematurely kicked off the bus by the driver was a Grade 9 student who the Times-Herald spoke with.
In order to protect the anonymity of the witness, the student’s parents requested the Times-Herald withhold publishing their name.
Although Sture would not reveal the gender of the bus driver involved in this situation, the witness said the bus driver was a male.
According to the witness, the root of the bus driver’s frustration stemmed from the actions of one of the three youths.
“This (youth) had been playing with the chord lately, just to make the bus driver mad,” said the witness. “So, he kept pulling it every stop and nobody would get off. The bus driver finally got so frustrated that he told us that he would only stop at three stops down Coteau, and that everybody had to get off.
The witness said the youth in question has pulled the chord multiple times in the past few weeks.
The witness added that three youths remained on the bus after the other students stepped off. The other two youths who weren’t ringing the stop bell were merely laughing at the perpetrator’s actions, said the witness.
Sergeant Rick Johns of the Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS) confirmed the statements made by both Sture and the witness.
“Our involvement started in the downtown area – the 200 block of Main Street – where we were to assist transit regarding some youth causing problems on the city bus,” said Sgt. Johns. ”We had officers attend and they dealt with three youths who were subsequently turned over to their parents.”
We try to empower our drivers to make as many rational decisions as they can and encourage them to call the office if they run into an issue, or something that they are uncomfortable dealing with. Mark Sture - Transit Manager, City of Moose Jaw
While police involvement was limited, Johns noted that the file regarding the incident remains open, pending further information.
Charges were not placed against the three youths, but Johns said, “There were certainly grounds to potentially lay a charge.”
The Transit Division file is also still open.
Sture said he is still trying to gather all the information regarding what specifically happened on Tuesday, but admitted, “It’s never pleasant to hear those actions occurring.”
He told the Times-Herald he would sit down with the bus driver late Thursday.
Sture admitted that he was not sure whether or not the bus driver radioed the issue he was having on Tuesday.
“I didn't hear any communication until towards the end of what was going on,” said Sture.
He added that city bus drivers don’t have a set of pronounced guidelines they are supposed to follow should incidents like the one on Tuesday arise. Instead, drivers rely on “so-called good judgment.”
“We try to empower our drivers to make as many rational decisions as they can and encourage them to call the office if they run into an issue, or something that they are uncomfortable dealing with,” said Sture.
Sture said the Transit Division would be updating their policies over the coming months.
He noted many transit drivers have had issues in the past with unruly high school students, but “Predominantly on the School Extra Bus is where we have the issues.”
In the wake of this incident, its been suggested that video cameras be installed in city buses. Sture said the idea is being considered.
“Video cameras are an issue that is being considered as part of the 2014 budget.”
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks