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BUS DRIVER IS ACCUSED OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

A Metro Bus driver was suspended without pay this week after a female passenger said the driver sexually harassed her during two bus trips, transit officials said Wednesday.

Police were listening on the second occasion.

The woman Monday accused the driver of stopping the bus Friday night at Transitown Mall and turning off the interior lights. She said he motioned her forward and then made an inappropriate comment to her. She was the only passenger on the bus at the time, she told The Buffalo News.

After she complained, transit police detectives equipped the mother of four children with a monitor and a listening device and trailed her as she rode the bus again Monday.

The transit police also put a hidden camera on the bus.

During the second trip, the woman said the bus driver parked at the Eastern Hills Mall parking lot and made an inappropriate reference concerning her body.

Again, she was the only passenger on the bus, she said.

The woman, who asked that her name not be published, said Metro officials told her the quality of the audio tape was not good.

What's more, the camera malfunctioned, a transit official said.

Still, Metro suspended the driver after his superiors talked to him Tuesday about the woman's allegation. The woman and the bus driver will be interviewed again as part of an investigation, said Lawrence M. Meckler, executive director of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

"In the meantime, we have taken the driver out of service," Meckler said. "After we've had a chance to talk to both the driver and passenger, we'll make a determination of what the appropriate action should be."

Meckler said he hopes to resolve the matter in a couple of days. Metro refused to identify the bus driver, but Meckler said he has had an unblemished record during 10 years on the job.

The transit police outfitted the woman with a transmitter to ensure her safety during the second trip, Meckler said.

The woman and bus driver had talked to each other briefly on a couple of other bus trips before Friday's trip, but they were not friends and had not socialized, she said. The bus driver does not know her name, she said.

The woman said she was puzzled when the bus driver asked her to move to the front of the bus Friday.

"I thought it was a friendly gesture or thought maybe something was wrong with my transfer," she said. "I went up front to see what he wanted."

That's when the driver turned off the inside lights and made a crude remark to her, she said.

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