New hire is new fire under MBTA cell phone ban

June 9, 2010

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BOSTON—A man who beat out thousands of job applicants for work as an MBTA bus driver has been fired after less than a week for allegedly violating the agency's ban on cell phone use.

The man was hired by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority through a 27,000-person job lottery conducted to fill 34 vacancies.

MBTA General Manager Richard Davey said Wednesday the new driver was seen using a cell phone at a training site. When a supervisor approached, the trainee allegedly snapped it shut and got on a bus.

"This is not the kind of conduct we tolerate with 20-year veterans, let alone 20-minute veterans," Davey said in an interview. "Possession usually merits a suspension, but this is clearly no way to begin a career, and we decided it was better to part ways."

The agency's policy requires the immediate firing of any driver caught using a cell phone while on duty. It mandates a 30-day suspension of anyone caught carrying a phone while working. New hires must sign a form indicating they are aware of the policy.

The policy was instituted last year after a driver slammed his Green Line trolley into another train while sending a text message to his girlfriend.

During the first year of the ban, 18 drivers were disciplined. Ten were fired, and eight were suspended.

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