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Ex-bus driver held after taking city bus for joyride on old route

A FORMER Dublin Bus employee was in custody after stealing a bus and driving across the city.

There was major garda chase last night when the ex-worker stole the vehicle and drove it for 32 kilometres across the south of the city and into Co Wicklow.

The drama began to unfold shortly before 9pm when the former employee went into the Ringsend bus depot and drove off in the double decker bus.

It is understood that he followed his old route, the 65 route, out through Tallaght to Blessington.

It's unclear at this stage whether the driver picked up any passengers, with one source telling the Herald he may have picked up "one or two people".

However, there were no passengers on board when the bus was finally stopped.

He drove the bus all the way to Tallaght and it was not until he got there that gardai were notified of the situation at 9.35pm after getting reports of a possible drink-driver at the wheel.

At least half a dozen patrol cars followed the bus and it was eventually stopped at Blessington, Co Wicklow, just before 10pm. The 45-year-old Dublin man was arrested at the scene and is currently being detained at Rathfarnham Garda Station for the unauthorised taking of a vehicle.

It is understood that the suspect was not intoxicated and is very likely to face charges.

A source explained: "This was a short pursuit -- gardai did not have to make a forced stop. The bus was not damaged and while the incident was dangerous, no other vehicles were damaged either."

One of the alerts received by Dublin Bus was from a member of the public who notified them about a driver who was going around a roundabout five times.

The bus involved has been impounded by gardai so the public transport company will not know until they can view the on-board CCTV footage if passengers had been picked up.

It is understood Dublin Bus central control was able to track the movements of the vehicle using the new AVL (automatic vehicle location) system.

The driver's movements, to within a couple of metres, were followed on screen as the drama unfolded. It is believed the driver resigned from the company voluntarily. He had not been the subject of disciplinary proceedings prior to leaving the company, it is understood.

The culprit would not have been able to travel faster than 65km/h as all buses using the city are fitted with a governor limiting their speed.