This past week an unidentified VIA transit driver in San Antonio was traveling along his route when he picked up two elderly women. It was one of the woman's birthdays and they were traveling to Mr. and Mrs. G’s Restaurant for a birthday lunch.

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When the driver pulled into the two women's destination, he opened the bus doors and let them out. The driver then exited the bus and began unloading their scooters onto the ground for them to use.

A NEARBY STRANGER

Restaurant manager, Stann Jernigan was taking inventory when he noticed the two women exiting the bus. He quickly walked over to the driver and informed him the restaurant was closed; however, the driver dismissed him and continued to unload the woman and their scooters anyways.

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Jernigan continued to explain that the restaurant was closed, but the driver insisted he had to leave because “he got other deliveries to make.” Worried because of the dangerous temperatures outside he continued to try and resolve the matter, “Can you put them on the bus, it’s hot out here?” he asked. However, the driver replied, “No, they can go somewhere and sit in the shade.’”

Surprised by the lack of empathy, Jernigan insisted the woman not be left because there was no safe amount of shade, “ It was over 100 degrees out here,” Jernigan said. “Even in the shade, it was probably 90 degrees anyway.”

NOT THE PROPER PROTOCOL

The driver resisted and when Jernigan suggested he call a dispatcher to pick the women up the driver insisted he “could not do that.” Jernigan attempted to get the driver's name but he would not share that information and drove away.

VIA confirmed that this is not the proper protocol for VIAtrans passengers, “The protocol calls for the actual passenger to be dropped off. And if they’re being dropped off somewhere where the building is closed, then (the driver needs) to call the supervisor or the dispatcher to make alternate arrangements immediately.”

TAKING IT INTO HIS OWN HANDS

Thankfully, Jernigan could not dismiss the two elderly ladies and took things into his own hands. He led them inside the restaurant, made sure they were comfortable and hydrated and began making calls to get the ladies home safely.

Initially, he was unable to find properly transportable family members since the two women each had an electric scooter. About an hour and ten minutes later Jernigan was able to get ahold of VIA and schedule a pickup.

DISCIPLINARY LEAVE

“We do want to thank the employee from the restaurant for doing what he did,” Pulido said. VIA has since opened an investigation and placed the driver on disciplinary leave until the situation is resolved.
Pulido assured that they are diligently working to ensure a similar situation never happens again, “We want to reaffirm that VIA is committed to the highest quality of customer care, especially during these hot weather months. That’s part of our commitment to our community.”

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