Larry Moore could have been fired. In the years he drove Broward County transit buses:
• He was disciplined 19 times, serving a total 31 days of suspension.
• He was held responsible for nine accidents with other South Florida drivers.
• He reached the threshold for firing, but in 2008 was given a "last chance'' before "immediate discharge.''
• He went on to be disciplined seven more times, for five preventable accidents and two clashes with customers, county personnel records show.
Moore's history with Broward transit ended two weeks ago. He wasn't fired. He retired. Broward transit officials said Friday they would have fired him if he hadn't left.
His case is illustrative of some of Broward's transit drivers, given more forgiveness for causing accidents and mistreating the public than even their union contract calls for. Meanwhile, complaints continue to come in, public records show. The disciplinary system for bus drivers is under scrutiny now by top county officials, including the county auditor.
"I think some of them know they can get away with doing what they want,'' said Tom Cook, a daily bus rider who lives in Wilton Manors. "They know how their contract is. We're pretty much at their mercy.''
Moore, 62, remained behind the wheel until his Jan. 11 resignation, earning $48,500. He and his union representatives couldn't be reached for comment for this story.
His personnel file shows Moore repeatedly had flareups with passengers who grated on his nerves. He also had a history of accidents.
Once, he had the police kick a woman off his bus because her daughter was popping bubble gum loudly. Another time he had a passenger evicted for whistling.
Moore had to be continually reminded not to fight with passengers, and not to let them get under his skin.
In one of his cases, Moore wrote a response, telling county officials that his loss of an arm and leg in a county bus accident in 1996 had heightened his sensitivity to sound. Moore lost two limbs while driving a Broward transit bus in 1996, in a crash caused by a Cadillac on University Drive. He came back to drive buses using prosthetics, receiving a federal waiver allowing him to do so.
Hired in 1993, Moore's first serious discipline, a three-day suspension, came in 2001, according to his personnel file. "You had a passenger who placed his bike on the bike rack,'' county bus officials summarized, "and then proceeded to board when you closed the doors and left him and further down the road you stopped and took the bike off the rack and left it on the side of the road.''
Years later, in August 2008, Moore was suspended for five days after an ugly exchange with a female passenger. Moore missed her bus stop, and she wanted off. He pulled over at the next stop.
"That's when things got out of control,'' his bosses recounted in his personnel file.
Moore refused to open the front door to let her out, insisting she leave by the back door. Passengers started yelling at him, but he wouldn't budge. The woman remained on the bus after it pulled away, until a county supervisor intercepted it and apologetically drove her home.
Just a month later, Moore got into a challenge with a woman whose daughter was popping bubble gum. He called headquarters and told them to call the police.
This wasn't his first instance of "improper and overly aggressive'' exchanges with passengers, his bosses wrote, and because of the progressive discipline system, they wrote, "this instance is grounds for termination.''
Instead, they offered him a "Last Chance Agreement'' — a five-day suspension and employee-assistance referral, and the warning: "Any future incidents of a same or similar nature that rise to the level of formal discipline will result in immediate discharge.''
He received many more chances after that, starting with an accident a year later.
In July 2010, for example, a man in a white cap got on his bus. Moore could have been fired if he got in any more trouble, but the man was whistling. Moore pulled the bus over and waited almost 11 minutes for Plantation police to evict the man for "whistling too loud,'' personnel records say.
County transit officials pulled the video tapes and watched. "There are ... no laws that prohibit any member of the public from whistling in a normal tone,'' they wrote to him in a memo.
Instead of being fired, Moore was allowed to attend counseling and serve a three-day suspension.
Defending himself, Moore wrote a three-page letter, arguing that the man in the white cap was trying to agitate him.
Moore said his body's "perception of loud sound'' isn't the same as the average person's, because his body had compensated for its lost limbs.
"My perception of this passenger whistling is like a piercing in my ear," he wrote. "It is annoying and it causes stress."
Less than a year later, he hit a car and was suspended for a day. A few months later, he served another day of suspension for an accident. Last April, he served three more days for a preventable accident.
The month after that, his bosses said he called Miramar police to have a woman kicked off the bus. She had fallen getting on board, and he hadn't helped her. Then she didn't pay her fare. Passengers offered to pay, but he refused, telling her to get off.
"After the passenger stepped off the bus you kicked an object at the woman and then proceeded to close the door on her while she was in the doorway,'' transit officials wrote in a memo.
The following month, last June, he was suspended five days for another accident.
Transit Director Tim Garling said Moore recently had another accident, and was going to be fired, but chose to resign instead.
Though Moore is gone, others with histories of trouble are still on the road, thanks to Broward transit's disciplinary system, which is now under scrutiny by county officials.
The Sun Sentinel reported earlier this month that one driver, Charles Butler, who cost taxpayers $73,005 in a lawsuit settlement, was involved in 21 accidents while driving a county bus. Twelve were deemed preventable, and 10 involved him hitting another driver. He is still driving, despite having reached the firing threshold.
Butler's case prompted County Auditor Evan Lukic to launch a review of bus driver disciplinary procedures, he announced recently.
Garling said Friday that "Butler's situation occurred several years ago and at that time there was not sufficient management oversight of the process."
The county does fire bus drivers. Driver Richard Walker was one of three to be fired in 2012 when he lost his job in December for delaying his bus route 23 minutes and then handing out free all-day passes to four passengers — a move he considered "Sunsational service'' but that occurred after a series of violations.
Garling said the county follows the union contract, which calls for progressive levels of discipline.
"The vast majority of BCT's 650 bus operators are hardworking, serve our customers professionally and operate in a safe manner,'' Garling said.
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