C-Tran fires driver involved in bus yard accident

By Eric Florip, Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter



C-Tran this week fired the driver involved in an early-morning incident that injured another employee in the agency’s bus yard last month.

Donna Ferren, a 28-year veteran with the agency, was fired effective Tuesday, said C-Tran public affairs director Scott Patterson. The decision was based on “a number of factors,” he said. The agency did not provide further details.

“It was our own investigation, and it was based on our accident policy,” Patterson said.

On March 20, Ferren was pulling a bus into a traffic lane on the large lot behind C-Tran’s administrative office when it struck Julia Johnson, who was on foot walking toward another bus. Ferren’s bus made a wide turn and hit Johnson in a marked pedestrian area, according to C-Tran.

Johnson, herself a C-Tran driver, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. She is still recovering from her injuries, Patterson said Wednesday.

Ferren is at least the second C-Tran driver to be terminated within the past year after an accident. Last August, Al Purvis was fired following a collision that killed a pedestrian crossing Washington Street in downtown Vancouver. C-Tran determined that Purvis was at fault in the incident, which occurred in December 2011.

Ferren was placed on paid leave after the bus yard accident, per C-Tran policy. Her termination came just over a month later.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, which represents Ferren and other C-Tran drivers, has 21 days to file a grievance challenging the decision. ATU is waiting on a state Labor & Industries report on the incident before it determines how to proceed, said President Bruce Hansen. The union could file a grievance in the next three weeks to hold its appeal period open, he said.

The union considers several factors when responding to terminations, Hansen said. Most are taken on a case-by-case basis, he said. But Hansen spoke highly of Ferren’s long track record with C-Tran, and said the union wants to make sure the agency took all proper considerations before acting.

“She has a very good driving record, very good customer service, very good attendance,” he said.

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