Most students have ridden the Pioneer Express (Pio) at least once in their time at Lewis & Clark, and expect to get where they are going safely. However, a driver of a Pio bus was recently accused of reckless driving and underwent an investigation by LC officials and EcoShuttle, the company that operates the Pio shuttles. The driver’s name has not been confirmed.
The issue was brought to attention when an anonymous student mentioned a Pio driver’s reckless driving to Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) Senator Hannah Posey-Scholl ’20. The student said the driver was driving so dangerously it caused them to almost have a panic attack while on the bus, and that the reckless driving was a regular occurrence they had been experiencing from that driver.
Posey-Scholl attested to this student’s experience, stating that she has had similar experiences with this driver.
“Over the years I personally have experienced this person driving dangerously and very fast,” Posey-Scholl said. “Once I brought the student’s story to the Senate, the entire Senate erupted saying ‘oh, I know that driver,’ ‘they have run into stuff on the Law School campus’ and ‘that driver has gone on the highway when they aren’t supposed to.’”
Another student anonymously spoke on their experience with the driver.
“While I’ve been on the bus I’ve seen him go on the freeway several times,” the student said. “He speeds all the time and passes cars when he shouldn’t. He drives so recklessly that I’ve seen several passengers who were standing fall to the ground or fall onto other passengers. I’ve even fallen over a few times when I was sitting down. He once pressured another car off the road, and honks at people aggressively.”
After bringing the issue to the Senate, Posey-Scholl and ASLC President Violet Betters ’20 alerted campus administration officials. An investigation has been conducted by EcoShuttle in accordance with the LC Facilities Department and Alan Finn, Treasurer and Vice President of Business and Finance.
In a memo sent to the LC Vice President for Facilities Michel George, the General Manager and Safety Director of EcoShuttle Lisa Holcomb Krahl outlined their meeting with the driver, the findings of the investigation and the consequences the driver will face.
“This gentleman is one of our senior drivers, and a trainer,” the memo said. “He has been with us for many years and has been servicing the Lewis & Clark contract for a very long time. We have the utmost confidence in his abilities however as I stressed in our meeting, sometimes drivers get comfortable and complacent and even by his own admission should be brought in for retraining.”
The memo stated that in the investigation, the company reviewed internal GPS system records which tracks driver behavior like speeding, harsh braking, turning, acceleration and idling time and establishes safety ratings of the drivers based on these records, which did conclude that the driver had become complacent in driving in a way that would have caused riders to be uncomfortable.
“He does not like to get behind on things or fail services,” the memo said. “It is for this reason that he admitted to potentially trying to catch up on routes and overspeeding in doing so. Operating the bus hurriedly, if you will … He admitted to trying to get back on route sooner and perhaps not paying as much attention to speed bumps and the like, causing discomfort to the ridership.”
EcoShuttle also stated that the driver was receptive to the follow-up plan which is comprised of 30 days of driver monitoring to establish patterns and break bad driving habits, mandatory participation in a training program, viewing of a safety retraining video, a handwritten acknowledgment of shortcomings and an action plan for corrective behavior.
ASLC and Alan Finn expressed concern that the issue was not brought to the attention of student government or school administration sooner, as the reckless driving has reportedly been occurring for several years according to student reports, including Posey-Scholl.
“We are also concerned that it seems it took a bit of time for this complaint to make its way to us so we are also working on a better way for students to give feedback on shuttle performance,” Finn said via email.
In the memo, EcoShuttle stated that they will be placing phone numbers and emails on the Pio buses so that students can report safety issues to the Safety Department of EcoShuttle as they occur. This contact information will be available on the shuttles as of March 1.