Woman stole MTA bus after refusing to put out cigarette, MTA says

The woman took the bus when the driver was helping the other passengers off.

A former bus driver drove off with an MTA bus Tuesday morning after she refused to put out her cigarette, the MTA said.

Charita Headley lit a cigarette in the back of an M101 bus at the 96th Street stop in East Harlem, the MTA said. The driver asked her to put it out and ordered her off the bus, but the woman refused, officials said. Police received a call about the incident around 7:10 a.m., before the woman allegedly stole the bus.

The driver pulled the bus over to allow the passengers to transfer to another bus. The driver left the driver’s seat to assist with the transfer, and while outside of the bus, Headley got in the driver’s seat and drove off with the empty bus, the MTA and police said.

She was stopped on 100th Street and Third Avenue by police officers who were able to shut off the bus by reaching through the driver’s side window, the MTA and police said. The NYPD apprehended Headley, and she was taken to Metropolitan Hospital Center for evaluation, police said. Charges against her are pending.

Headley was fired last summer for “extended absence,” the MTA said.

The incident is under investigation.

Nicole Brown