PORTLAND, Ore. —A public transit driver berated a woman and her crying baby into getting off a bus in a Portland suburb, saying "I can't drive with that noise," another passenger said Monday.
Over the loudspeaker, the female bus driver told the woman to distract the baby to quiet it down, passenger Jennifer Chapman said. Other passengers muttered that the driver should "just drive the bus, just do your job," she said.
When the mother and the baby got off the bus at a stop in Hillsboro, other passengers also left en masse in protest, she added.
Mary Fetsch, a spokeswoman for the agency that runs mass transit in the Portland metropolitan area, said TriMet's policy is not to remove people such as women with children from a bus. The driver, who was not identified, has been placed on administrative leave while the agency investigates the complaint from the incident Thursday, Fetsch said.
Chapman said the child was younger than 2 and was fussing in her mother's lap at the time. The mother spoke only Spanish, she said.
The bus driver pulled over at a scheduled stop, walked to the back of the bus, pointed at the mother and then the baby, Chapman said. The woman then walked off the bus with the child, followed by the other passengers, she said.
In a conversation with a dispatcher immediately after the confrontation, the bus driver described the baby as not "just crying."
"It was screaming all the way from Beaverton, and I just finally stopped the bus," the driver said. "I said we need to get the baby to stop screaming because I just can't drive with it screaming ... that is not safe."
The conversation was recorded by Al Margulies, a fellow bus driver and blogger who monitors scanner traffic. Marguilies played the recording to the Associated Press, and TriMet confirmed the accuracy of the recording.