Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jan 2005
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Province
Author:  Ian Austin


Group Outraged After Second Bus Driver Issued Roadside Suspension

Bus drivers should undergo mandatory random drug and alcohol testing, says 
the Greater Vancouver Mothers Against Drunk Driving group.

The call comes after a Coast Mountain Bus driver was issued a 24-hour 
suspension for drunk driving Saturday.

That suspension follows the November firing of another Coast Mountain Bus 
driver, who was pulled over after driving erratically and issued a similar 
24-hour roadside suspension.

"Two is way too many," said Bob Rorison, MADD interim president.

"The question is, 'Is this the tip of the iceberg?' "

Rorison said testing would restore the public's faith in its drivers.

"It destroys public confidence," said Rorison. "There has to be random testing.

"Why should the public get on a bus when they don't know whether the 
drivers are sober?"

He said people who go out and imbibe count on public transit to get them 
home safely.

"You go out to a party and have a few drinks, and you don't want to drive," 
he said.

"So you get on a bus, and the driver's drunk."

Vancouver Police Const. Tim Fanning said the eastbound 99 B-Line bus was 
pulled over at the corner of Broadway and Granville at about 6:30 p.m. 
Saturday after a passenger phoned police.

"From my experience, and I was on the street for years, it's a very rare 
occurrence," said Fanning.

Fanning said police used a hand-held device on the driver that indicated a 
blood-alcohol level somewhere between .05 to .099, so he was given a 
roadside suspension.

The device isn't accurate enough to lay a criminal charge. Police can -- 
but didn't in this case -- order a second breath sample from a more 
accurate device to determine whether the driver has exceeded the official 
impaired driving limit of .08.

Coast Mountain Bus Company spokesman Doug McDonald said his company has a 
zero-tolerance policy in place for drivers.

"The majority of our 2,500 bus drivers are professionals," said McDonald. 
"They know we have zero tolerance, and they wouldn't take the risk."

The driver met yesterday with company and union officials and his fate 
could be decided by today.

"The information we have is he wasn't consuming on the job," said McDonald. 
"We do have a clear policy, and that's zero tolerance."

McDonald said there is no random drug or alcohol testing for drivers.

"What we do have is a very good attendance monitoring system that can help 
highlight issues," he said.

"That can be a flag, and we can intervene."

Steve Sutherland, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 111, said 
information is still coming in, so it's too early to say what the driver 
will face.

"Nobody's going to support drinking and driving, but there may be 
circumstances," he said. "Alcoholism can be a disability.

"We don't know a lot about it -- we have to look at it in its entirety."
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MAP posted-by: Beth