The MBTA is raising its standards for new drivers by implementing hiring standards it describes as the most stringent in the nation.
"A number of employment candidates who were hired prior to this year, would not be eligible under the new criteria," MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email Friday. "The new standards are considered by many to be the most stringent among major U.S. transit systems."
The announcement followed news that a T driver who crashed a bus in Newton requested her license be reinstated.
The driver,Shanna Shaw, was fired in May after an investigation revealed she may had been distracted by her cell phone before the crash. Shaw was found to have ahistoryof "unsafe and irresponsibledriving behavior" that included violations - including speeding.
Under the previous driving record criteria for hiring new bus drivers, a candidate was only disqualified if he or she had: three or more moving violations in the same calendar year in the past three years; one or more DUI/DWI within the past five years; or found at fault in a fatal vehicle accident.
These hiring standards were in place since the 1980s until General Manager Beverly Scott tightened the minimum requirements two months ago, Pesaturo said.
Under the new criteria, a candidate for bus operator will not be considered if he or she has a driving record containing any of the following: An automobile law violation within the past two years; an at-fault accident within the past two years; a major traffic law violation within the past five years; A license suspension in the past five years that resulted from one or more automobile law violations; or a refusal of a breathalyzer test in the past ten years.