Muni Reissues Notice Reminding Its Drivers of Cell Phone Ban

3596785034_a9bf5cf06b.jpgA Muni driver on the 24 spotted yapping on a cell phone just this week. Flickr photo: peephole

We’re not sure exactly what sparked this bulletin — other than recent crashes around the country involving transit drivers using cell phones — but Muni sent a reminder to its drivers this morning that they are not only not allowed to use a cell phone while operating a transit vehicle, they cannot even display one. The bulletin (PDF) is signed by new Chief Safety Officer James Dougherty and Chief Operating Officer Ken McDonald. The rules state:

1. Transit operators are not permitted to display or use a cellular phone, PDA, hand-held or hands-free devices, while operating a transit vehicle.
2. Transit operators are not permitted to read, write or send emails or text messages while operating a transit vehicle.
3.  Cell phones, PDA’s or any personal electronic vehicle must be turned off while operating a transit vehicle.
4. If an employee must make an emergency call (911), the transit vehicle must be stopped in a safe location and you must exit the compartment before making the call.

The notice goes on to warn drivers that they face disciplinary action, including termination, if caught using a cell phone.

"The reissued bulletin reflects the importance that we place on our operators and all of our employees to follow the safest procedures possible," said MTA spokesperson Judson True. "We simply cannot tolerate cell phone use by our operators."

True said anyone who spots an operator using a cell phone should call 311 immediately, and their operators will call central control and "get an inspector to the scene as quickly as possible and deal with it." He said seven operators who work on the rail side — cable cars, streetcars and LRVs — have been suspended in the past six months for using cell phones. And he was waiting to get numbers on bus drivers, who carry the majority of Muni passengers.

Considering how many times riders have spotted Muni drivers on their cell phones, let’s hope this reminder reflects a reinvigorated effort to enforce the policy. We already know California drivers are flouting the state’s hand held cell phone law, and while the CHP is issuing some citations, it’s generally not being enforced.

Muni operators carry a much greater responsibility, shuttling hundreds of thousands of passengers daily across the city on streets already filled with myriad distractions.

  • What a coincidence Muni issued this bulletin a day after I posted a picture of a driver on a cellphone!

    Glad the reminder went out, anyway. The driver of the bus I was on tried to cut it out with the cellphone and got rid of the friend who was horsing around with him on the bus the moment he finally saw my camera out in his rearview mirror.

  • Jim

    That’s a pretty strict policy. Regular civilian drivers in CA are allowed to call 911 while driving, but MUNI drivers are not.

  • Cranky_Old_Batt

    Jim that is not true. Muni drivers have a direct RADIO connection to dispatch.

  • Muni’s radios are frequently busted. They’re by no means a reliable connection to dispatch.

  • I can tell you for certain the driver pictured above was NOT calling 911.

  • Henry James

    Note Vehicle Code Section 23125. (a) A person may not drive a schoolbus or transit vehicle,as defined in subdivision (g) of Section 99247 of the Public
    Utilities Code, while using a wireless telephone.
    So there is an absolute prohibition in state law. Muni is correctly enforcing the law.

  • Passangers’ safety should be always in the first place. Any bus drivers should think twice before he reaches for a cell phone. If it’s a emergency – 911, then is fine by me. But not in case of an idle chit-chat.

    Matt Daniels
    Author of Reversecellphonelookup