Updated July 27
Peter Pan Bus Lines is looking to identify a bus driver who was photographed looking at his phone while simultaneously operating a bus full of people.
The photograph of the driver sparked concern and anger after it was posted on the Islanders Talk Facebook page on Thursday.
Passenger Jarda Kral, an Island resident, posted the picture while on the bus to Logan Airport, according to the post. He wrote the bus was traveling on the highway at what he guessed to be 60 miles per hour.
“I feel really safe,” he wrote.
Kral told the Times on Friday that the driver was distracted in all aspects, and was looking at his phone on several occasions. “It wasn’t just texting,” Kral said. “He was talking with people. He would hold the phone down and would have it in his hands, then start looking at it again.”
The driver even tried to pass a vehicle on the highway, but was distracted by his phone, Kral said. “He wasn’t paying attention at all, and there were about 30 people on that bus.”
Kral said the driver didn’t know how to get to the airport, and when the bus did arrive at the terminal safely, it was the wrong terminal. “It was awkward because he didn’t know where to go, and ended up dropping me at the arrivals terminal,” Kral said.
Chris Crean, vice president of safety and security for Peter Pan, told The Times he received the picture from the passenger and immediately began investigating. He said that Peter Pan bus drivers wear white shirts, and the driver in the picture was wearing a blue shirt. With this information, Crean concluded that the bus was a rental coach that Peter Pan hired outside its own operation. On Friday, Crean told the Times that the bus line has been identified as MDT Bus Lines, a privately owned and operated charter company located in Seekonk. He said he has notified the company that once the driver is identified, Peter Pan will cease to use the driver. When asked if they would continue to use MDT Bus Lines as backup transportation, Crean said that is still to be determined.
“What the company does is up to them, they might terminate his position, but if it was one of our drivers, they would be fired,” Crean said.
MDT officials did not immediately respond to a message left at their offices.
Peter Pan has a zero-tolerance policy for any negligent driving conduct, he said. “Drivers have been fired for talking on their phone,” Crean said. “No text is worth getting in an accident over.”
State law forbids the use of of a phone to text while driving. The offense carries a $100 fine for a first offense, a fine of $250 for a second offense, and a fine of $500 for a third or subsequent offense, according to the Registry of Motor Vehicles website.
Crean said that although this sort of conduct is out there every day, passenger safety is a central priority. “My family uses the bus line. I certainly wouldn’t want my kids on that bus,” Crean said.
Peter Pan has an idea of who the driver is, but Crean said he will not release that information until it is confirmed.
Updated to identify the charter bus company. -Ed.