Bus Passenger Sits in for Replacement Greyhound Driver Unable to Drive Stick
NEW YORK (AP) _ A woman bus passenger took the wheel Friday after a replacement driver for strike-plagued Greyhound Lines Inc. told riders he didn’t know how to use a stick shift.
Greyhound officials said Diane Monteiro, a licensed bus driver for another company, drove the bus from Delaware to New York City while the ill-trained replacement sat back and left the driving to her.
The replacement driver started at a junction in State Road, Del., and ″it was obvious very quickly that he could not drive that bus,″ said Greyhound spokesman George Grazley.
Trained by Greyhound, the driver was operating a Carolina Coaches bus under an arrangement with Greyhound, which also owns Trailways.
″When he started to pull off, it sounded like he had clutch trouble,″ said passenger Rosa White. ″Then we get down the highway and we get to the big trucks. He almost ran us into one of those. He was swerving.
″And he made an announcement that (the company) hadn’t trained him to shift the gears and he didn’t know how to drive the bus.″
Ms. Monteiro took the wheel, calmed passengers and the replacement driver ″just got in a seat and went on and relaxed instead of watching what she was doing,″ Ms. White said.
″We don’t know how the guy got through the training school without knowing all of that,″ Grazley said, adding that the driver was promptly fired.
He refused to identify the replacement driver.
″Greyhound seems to have adopted a new slogan. It’s called, ’Go Greyhound and leave the driving to you,‴ said Harold Mandlowitz, president of Local 1202 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which has been on strike against the nation’s only intercity bus company since March.
The woman made a stop at a Greyhound terminal in Newark, N.J., and continued to New York, where the bus arrived between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., Ms. White said.
Efforts by The Associated Press to contact Ms. Monteiro for comment were not immediately successful. The bus company she works for was not disclosed.
Grazley said Dallas-based Greyhound is investigating.
″We’re going to find out how he got through school,″ Grazley said. ″The fact that he got through school without learning how to drive a stick shift doesn’t mean that others did. We have not had other mistakes like this.″
The 6,300 drivers in the Amalgamated Council of Greyhound Local Unions launched their strike on March 2 over wages and job security. Greyhound filed for bankruptcy protection last week.
The company has been operating with about 3,000 replacement drivers.