Bus driver charged with being rude to passenger

Isabel Reymundo Cuesta

Isabel Reymundo Cuesta

A bus driver was yesterday charged with “showing lack of respect” to a Spanish tourist during an argument in which he allegedly tried to pull her out of her seat and off the bus when she demanded change after paying the fare.

The Spanish woman, Isabel Reymundo Cuesta, who was shocked by the man’s behaviour, had said she ruled out returning to Malta in the wake of the incident but then softened her stand after being offered a free holiday by the tourism authority.

The driver, Christopher Tonna, 41, who has no fixed address, risks being fined €58 for demonstrating disrespect to the passenger on June 29 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

His driving licence was suspended by the transport authority after the alleged incident.

Ms Cuesta had complained that, on the day in question, the driver of a bus operating route 27 to Marsaxlokk insulted her and refused to give her change when she gave him €1 to pay for two tickets that cost 94c. She said the driver even tried to throw her off the vehicle.

She returned to Malta with her friends for her all-expenses paid trip last weekend and left the country with a good feeling about Malta.

“Our trip was very good and the Malta Tourism Authority has managed to change our perception of Malta. Only the weather was not so good,” she told The Times.

An eyewitness, assistant dispatcher Saviour Grech, who testified yesterday, downplayed the incident and said there was nothing threatening about the driver’s behaviour. At one point, the driver asked the visitor to leave the bus and that could have possibly been interpreted as being threatening, he said.

Mr Grech testified he boarded the bus after the incident had started and found the driver and two tourists (including Ms Cuesta) standing up. He realised the two were angry, adding Ms Cuesta was “making strange movements with her mouth”.

He said he ordered the two to sit down and told the driver to return to his cabin as he tried to establish what was going on, adding that the woman at first refused to sit down but then obeyed, muttering something to the effect of “goo, goo, goo”.

Mr Grech said he never heard the driver insulting Ms Cuesta but once the situation calmed down he asked her to file a report about the incident to the police.

The case continues.

Lawyers Chris Cardona and Mark Vassallo appeared for Mr Tonna.

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