Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Drunk bus driver charged

Tony Simpson admitted he was at fault, and said he had a 'bad day' after going through a 12h shift with no food.
Tony Simpson admitted he was at fault, and said he had a 'bad day' after going through a 12h shift with no food.

A bus driver who drove drunk with passengers on board says he's not the worst bus driver in the country.

Tony Trevor Simpson admitted in the Auckland District Court this week to driving with a breath alcohol level of more than the legal limit of 400 micrograms per litre of breath. Simpson had a 687mcg reading when he was intercepted by police, who had been contacted by a concerned motorist.

Ten passengers were on the Takapuna-bound Ritchies bus on July 10 on Albert St, in central Auckland. Simpson was fined $600 and disqualified from driving for a year and a day.

Simpson — who has resigned from his job — told the Herald on Sunday that during a break he drank alcohol that was stored behind his seat.

"It was a one-off event and I'm very sorry ... there were various issues, but I'm not going to go into them. I just had a bad day.

"What I did was completely wrong."

Simpson was caught about 6.30pm, near the end of his 12-hour-plus shift, and said he had not eaten any food that day.

Asked if he was the worst bus driver in New Zealand, Simpson said: "Believe me, I don't think that's the case."

He had no plans to get back behind the wheel after his disqualification ended.

His biggest regret was upsetting his passengers — a couple of regulars were on the bus when he was arrested, Simpson said.

"I saw on their faces that they were surprised."

He also regretted his actions may have harmed the reputation of Ritchies and his colleagues.

"This isn't a systemic issue. I don't like them being dragged through the mud because of one idiot mistake by one idiot driver."

The drink-driving conviction would be his first and last, he said.

"Learn from what's happened to me. You can lose a hell of a lot."

- Herald on Sunday

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