Woman in custody after police say she stole MTA bus on Upper East Side

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N.J. Burkett reports from East Harlem, where police say a passenger stole an MTA bus Tuesday morning.

A passenger stole an MTA bus in East Harlem Tuesday morning, police said, driving for several blocks before being stopped by another bus blocking her path.

The woman commandeered the M101 after lighting a cigarette in the back of the bus near the 96th Street stop around 7:10 a.m. The bus operator asked the woman to put out the cigarette, but she became irate and refused to get off.

The bus operator got the passengers off for their safety, and they were put on another bus.

As the operator was taking the passengers off, the woman took the wheel of the bus and took off, according to officials.

She got three blocks north on Third Avenue before another bus blocked her path on East 100th Street.

An MTA dispatcher reached into the drivers' side window and turned off the bus. The dispatcher then opened the bus door, and police took the 34-year-old woman into custody. Charges have not yet been announced.

She was transported to nearby Metropolitan Hospital for evaluation. She told officers that she stole the bus because someone was following her.

The MTA is investigating how she was able to slip behind the wheel and drive the bus away.

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