A North County woman called 911 on Tuesday night to report her bus driver.
Emily Knudsen was riding the bus on Route 309, which carries passengers between Oceanside and Encinitas along El Camino Real, heading to her job at BevMo in Encinitas. This trip, though, was weirder than usual for the young Carlsbad woman.
"I'm used to seeing crazies on the bus all the time, and people who are drunk or weird," Knudsen said Wednesday. "But, no, the bus drivers -- usually they're pretty normal."
A San Diego County sheriff's deputy eventually stopped the North County Transit District bus Tuesday afternoon and arrested the driver, David Joseph Costello, 40, on suspicion of driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.. There were eight passengers on the bus when it was pulled over in the 450 block of Encinitas Boulevard shortly before 4:25 p.m.
The driver was acting very odd, Knudsen said on Wednesday.
"I asked the bus driver how late we were and he said 10 minutes, but then he was going really slow ... then he was driving fast and slow again," Knudsen said
There was also mystery stops, said Sgt. Mark O'Connor of the San Diego Sheriff's Department.
"He was stopping at bus stops where there were no passengers waiting to get on and no one had rang the bell to get off, and he'd sit there for a few minutes," O'Connor said.
At one point, it appeared that the driver stopped the bus to go outside to urinate.
"He got out of the bus and went through bushes, and down into a ravine by a lagoon for a couple of minutes, and then came back up and was pushing the bushes out of the way, and I just assumed he'd gone down to use the bathroom," Knudsen said.
The trip to work usually takes about 35 to 40 minutes, but on Tuesday it was was closer to an hour. Knudsen had had enough; when she got off at her stop, she went to work and called 911.
Costello's parents, who live in El Cajon, said that he lives in Oceanside and has had trouble with alcohol off and on for several years.
For her part, Knudsen said she was heading back to work on Wednesday, but not via public transit.
"I don't want to ride the bus today, so I'm having one of my friends take me," Knudsen said.
First Transit, the company that operates the route under contract with the district, employed the driver.
"This is a very serious matter.... NCTD and our contractors view safety as our top priority, “said NCTD Executive Director Matt Tucker. “A review of our safety record supports our contractors are required by the Federal Transit Administration to maintain a rigorous drug and alcohol testing policy and procedures. These procedures are audited independently by federal and state agencies.”
O'Connor was shocked by the arrest.
"In my career, this is the first time we've had a bus driver with such responsibility, driving passengers around, stopped and arrested for driving under the influence," O'Connor said.
Costello's father said he believed his son is still being held at the Vista Detention Facility.