JTA to its riders: Drivers committed to doing their job well

After 2 drivers fired after high-profile incidents, CEO reaches out

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor, Kelly Wiley - I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After the Jacksonville Transportation Authority fired two of its bus drivers after incidents in the past 30 days, the CEO is distributing memos to all its riders saying "the safety and security of you, as our customers, is my first priority."

The letter signed by CEO Nathaniel Ford Sr. was on the seat of JTA buses Thursday morning. It noted recent news coverage of recent incidents -- one where a woman was run over and killed by a bus and a second where a bus on railroad tracks was hit by an Amtrak train.

"I'd like to address those concerns with you directly and assure you that the unfortunate actions of a few are not representative of our operations as a whole," Ford wrote. "Our employees do tremendous work every day."

He noted that JTA moved more than 12 million passengers last year, its vehicles logging more than 35,000 miles each day. Last year, 232 bus operators received safety awards "for their dedication and commitment to doing their job well."

According to Ford, each year since 2015, the JTA has averaged less than one preventable incident and less than 1.6 non-preventable incidents per 100,000 miles driven.

"Are we perfect? No. Will we aim for perfection? Absolutely," Ford said.

DOCUMENT: JTA CEO's letter to customers

Data obtained by News4Jax earlier this month showed 78 drivers have been terminated from the JTA since 2017. Twenty of those were fired for attendance reasons and for the other 58, the records only give the reasons of "involuntary" or "other."

We also found seven drivers appealed their firings and one was reinstated. 

One driver not listed in that report is Jean Silney, who was fired for nearly running over a supervisors foot with his bus in 2018 but was reinstated after his union filed a grievance. 

Silney was fired again last month after officials said his bus ran over and killed a woman who somehow got tangled up with the bus as she was getting off.

JTA officials told the I-TEAM they are working to figure out why Silney was not on the list of terminated employees.

The most-recently fired JTA driver, Carolyn Simmons, was cited with failure to obey a traffic control device at a railroad crossing in a collision with an Amtrak train on the Westside earlier this month.

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