The incident came to the attention of the Toronto Transit Commission the way most such incidents do these days. A video was taken of the operator driving and then posted on YouTube.
The video was posted last Friday. According to the accompanying description, the train was travelling southbound on the Yonge Street line between the Eglinton and Bloor Street stations.
The video shows the inside of operator's cab. Although the driver's face is not seen, both hands are visible in some of the footage. The driver uses his (or her) right hand to operate the controls. The left hand, held low, contains a mobile device and the operator appears to be texting.
Danny Nicholson, a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) spokesman, is quoted in the Toronto Star saying, All I can really say about that is that we're aware of the situation and it is being investigated. Obviously our operators, whether they're driving any of our vehicles, they're not permitted to use a cellphone while driving a vehicle.
Last May, the Toronto Star reported 70 similar investigations took place during the winter of 2011. Drivers were investigated for driving while reading newspapers, listening to iPods, or using cellphones to talk or text. During February and March of last year, 27 drivers were suspended for distracted driving. The newspaper reports all but one of the 27 employees got their jobs back and many had their records expunged and were paid the wages lost during their suspensions.
Although texting while operating a train on a track does not seem as serious as using a cellphone while driving in lanes of traffic, accidents are not unknown. As reported in the Boston Globe, Aiden Quinn pleaded guilty to gross negligence in a Massachusetts court on Dec. 29, 2010. In May 2009, the former Massachusetts Transit Authority employee drove through yellow and red lights before slamming his train into the rear of another. The collision injured 60 people.
Prior to the accident, Quinn had been texting his girlfriend.
The investigation into the Toronto Transit operator is continuing.