Streetcar operator suspended after video shows driverless car

Streetcar driver suspended after video shows driverless vehicle (VIDEO)
Published: May. 10, 2016 at 10:36 AM EDT|Updated: May. 10, 2016 at 10:33 PM EDT
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The unattended streetcar sits in OTR Sunday. (Provided photo)
The unattended streetcar sits in OTR Sunday. (Provided photo)

OVER THE RHINE, OH (FOX19) - A Cincinnati Streetcar operator has been suspended after a video surfaced of a street car vehicle open, running and unattended.

"This should have never happened in the first place," said Cincinnati city councilwoman Amy Murray.

The video, first aired by FOX19 NOW Monday, shows a West Chester woman hopping aboard the idle vehicle after spotting it near Findlay Market.

"If someone was able to get into and start driving it could be catastrophic," Murray said Tuesday.

Cincinnati's streetcar system is currently in a testing phase and will not serve the public until later this year. But that didn't stop the woman from ignoring the 'Do Not Enter' for an impromptu and unauthorized tour.

Cell phone video shows the woman walking through the car and up to the control dashboard. No streetcar staff are seen in the video.

Raw video: Woman boards unattended streetcar

"We noticed that the keys were in the ignition, the green light was on," said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority said the operator was on a restroom break. A spokesperson said standard protocol for leaving an unattended streetcar involves removing the key from the ignition.

An investigation has been launched into the incident.

After FOX19 NOW aired the video Monday, SORTA issued a statement saying contractors will on Tuesday review safety procedures with streetcar staff in light of the incident.

"This incident has given us the opportunity to impress on our team the importance of following all safety procedures," said Paul Grether, Director of Rail Services for SORTA.  "All Transdev personnel are being retrained on proper safety protocols related to leaving the streetcar unattended, and we are confident that this will not happen again."

City Councilman Chris Smitherman said the video reveals some concerns.

"Anybody could have put anything on that streetcar to cause a problem," said Smitherman. The Councilman suggested officials who run the streetcar review protocols to make sure this does not happen again.

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