Former NYC Bus Driver Freaks Out, Steals NYC Bus

Always take the key out of the ignition, folks.

NYC Bus Thief
Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It was one of those days that would make Ralph Kramden smile: On the morning of February 23, a former bus driver for New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority commandeered a city bus and drove off with it—only to be stopped a few blocks later, when her brief escape was cut short by another bus. No one was injured.

According to authorities, former MTA employee Charita Headly, 34, of the Bronx, lit up a cigarette a little after 7am while riding the M101. Since smoking is illegal on public buses, as it is pretty much everywhere else in New York City, the driver reportedly told her to extinguish her butt and get her butt off the bus. She refused and reportedly became belligerent in the process. The driver parked the bus at Manhattan’s 97th Street and 3rd Avenue and called the police, at which point a second bus was dispatched to pick up the other passengers.

While the driver was ushering the other presumably uncomfortable-but-stoic New Yorkers to their new carriage, Headly jumped behind the wheel of the first buss and took off. She made it a three blocks before another city bus—whose heroic driver remains anonymous—juked in front of Headly’s runaway rig, ending her terribly planned getaway almost as soon as it began. A dispatcher reportedly reached in through the window and shut the bus off, at which point police officers climbed aboard and arrested Headly.

Headly told officers she believed she was being followed, prompting her to steal the bus; she was taken to the nearby Metropolitan Hospital Center in East Harlem for evaluation. She faces up to a year in prison if found guilty of the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. No reports yet as to whether she will be forced to attend the Sandra Bullock School of Bus Driving.