NJ Transit bus driver caught on video counting cash as he drives
CLIFTON — An interior designer on her way into New York for a night out with friends says she was shocked when her NJ Transit driver started counting and straightening his cash while driving on a rainy Route 3 toward the Lincoln Tunnel Saturday.
The driver was holding bills given to him as from passengers along the route that started in Clifton just before 5 p.m, according to rider Aston Smith. As the bus got back onto Route 3, Smith, sitting in the front seat opposite the driver, said she noticed he held onto the money instead of putting it away.
"He started to count the money and then sorted the bills ... by the time we got to the Meadowlands and we're passing (MetLife Stadium), he hadn't put it away and he's moving the bills into numerical order and then proceeds to go through them again to get them all facing the right way. It just seemed excessive and I started to get worried," Smith told New Jersey 101.5.
The video shows the bus wipers on slow speed. Smith said she estimated 25 to 30 residents were on the bus.
Smith said the driver's hands were not on the wheel and he was resting the outside of his forearms to steer the bus, which she estimates travelling at the posted speed limit between 55 and 60 mph. As the bus approached Secaucus, Smith said she pulled out her phone and took a short video clip.
He put the money away after picking up the last passengers in North Bergen on local roads before he got to the Lincoln Tunnel.
Smith said she was concerned about his reaction time should a car swerve into their lane.
"He had traffic all around him. We were next to the fast lane, so there were people going around the bus and in front of it," Smith said. "Had he needed to grab the wheel his reaction would have been delayed."
Smith said she didn't speak with the driver for fear of a confrontation, but did tweet the video to NJ Transit, hoping that a dispatcher would contact him via radio to let him know someone noticed what he was doing.
"MB" on NJ Transit's main Twitter account replied and said the "appropriate departments" had been notified and thank Smith for letting the agency know about the driver.
In a statement, NJ Transit said the agency is "throughly investigating this incident, and we share the concerns of the customers who brought this matter to our attention."
"We have specific rules in place that strictly prohibit counting money or tickets while driving. In ensuring the safety of our customers and our bus operators, we are committed to taking swift and appropriate disciplinary action upon the completion of our investigation," the agency said in a statement.
NJ Transit has not yet responded to a message asking the status of the driver of Smith's bus. A driver caught on video last January texting behind the wheel was immediately suspended.
More than 30 people suffered minor injuries when one NJ Transit rear ended another on Friday inside the Lincoln Tunnel. Both buses made their way out of the tunnel on their own. Port Authority police investigated the crash but have not yet disclosed the cause of the crash.
The agency also said that passengers should all incidents of concern directly to their customer service department either on our website, njtransit.com or by calling 973-275-5555.
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