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Thursday, April 8, 2010

TriMet Union Blames MAX Driver Firing on Media Frenzy

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

The TriMet operators' union has appealed the firing of the MAX driver who left a young boy stranded in November. You remember the story: a father and son are separated as the MAX door closes, the father presses the emergency call button repeatedly but gets no help from the driver. Joe Rose at the Oregonian reports that union President Sam Schwarz has penned a letter to TriMet headquarters alleging that the firing of operator Paul Cooper was an overreaction driven by media frenzy. From the letter:

TriMet's reaction to this incident was driven by the media's attention to it. I say that because there have been numerous incidents where trains have left the platforms and separated families or where it is alleged there was an emergency situation and the operator failed to respond to the call button - one the day before the incident involving Mr. Cooper.

While TriMet said Cooper ignored the father's 10 frantic calls from the emergency button, the union says the emergency button system was broken:

I stood at the Passenger PEI Unit 1 and pushed the passenger emergency button in 3 times in rapid succession the way a frantic passenger might punch the button. The operator answered after only the last time. He said he only heard the last one - which is exactly what Mr. Cooper always claimed.
I performed the same test a second time. Again, the operator said it only sounded once.

For another TriMet operator's certainly interesting take on Cooper's firing, check out bus driver Al M's video rant on the topic.

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