After a CTA bus driver clipped a no-parking sign on the South Side, smashing his side-view mirror, transit agency officials reviewed the onboard surveillance camera footage and found something disturbing.
The video showed CTA bus driver Roger Love, at some point during his shift, peeing from his No. J14 Jeffery Jump bus.
“During review of the hard drive of this accident the operator was observed urinating outside of the front door of the bus,” according to a disciplinary report obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Love was leaving a “service stop” around 89th and Jeffery in October 2016 at the time of the accident involving the sign.
He got suspended for three days for peeing from his bus, records show.
The Sun-Times reported last month on four other incidents in which drivers were caught relieving themselves on or near their buses, in some cases after being reported by someone who saw it happen.
Records show three of those drivers faced disciplinary action, but none was fired.
In one instance, in September, a driver who didn’t have any passengers at the time parked his bus, walked to the back, pulled a plastic bag from his pocket and defecated. He tried unsuccessfully to throw the bag out a window, and the contents of the bag splattered inside the bus.
Questioned by his bosses, he said a homeless man had done it. But after being caught by his onboard cameras, he admitted what he’d done, blaming “bad tacos.”
CTA officials didn’t buy his story of intestinal emergency. According to a CTA source, it appeared to be “premeditated.”
Facing a disciplinary recommendation that he be fired, the driver instead resigned — which, under CTA rules, means he can reapply for a job with the agency in the future.
The CTA source says there have been “dozens” of incidents in recent years involving bus drivers relieving themselves on their buses. All of the incidents were avoidable, according to the source.
CTA spokesman Brian Steele, who describes the instances as rare, says there’s no excuse for drivers using their buses as a bathroom.
“We don’t know why any operator would do this,” Steele says.
The CTA says it allows drivers to radio in when they need to take a quick bathroom break, even if they have passengers. The agency has placed portable bathrooms along certain routes and, in addition to public buildings they can also use, has agreements with businesses to let bus drivers use their restrooms.
Keith Hill, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, which represents bus drivers and includes Love as a steward for the CTA’s 103rd Street bus garage, says the vast majority of drivers do their jobs with professionalism. But Hill says sometimes the urge to go is great, and there’s no restroom nearby.
Love urinated while waiting for CTA officials to respond to his collision with the sign, according to Hill. Apparently no riders were on the bus.
Public urination and defecation are against the law.
Asked why Love wasn’t fired, Steele points to the “progressive” discipline the CTA uses under its union contracts. It was Love’s first “behavioral” violation, for which his union contract “calls for a one-day suspension.”
But because of the perceived seriousness of the incident, Steele says the agency sought “a more serious suspension” — three days without pay and six months of probation.
If the CTA imposes a harsh punishment, Steele says the union often appeals to an arbitrator and gets it overturned.
Love, hired by the CTA in 2004, makes about $73,000 a year.
CTA records of the incident say “Operator Love was found in violation of . . . CTA rules” and “understands how gravitas his actions are and that this type of behavior is totally unacceptable.
“Operator Love also understands that his actions were unsanitary, unprofessional and not becoming of a CTA Transit Professional.
“Operator Love was informed that future infractions could lead to his being removed from service and referred to the Senior Manager with a recommendation for discharge.”