Friday, May 29, 2009

Port Authority Endangering Lives?

Another day, another Port Authority accident.

When will there be some accountability for bus drivers in the city of Pittsburgh? Today, "Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie says the 77B Penn Hills bus was rounding a bend in North Oakland when the driver lost control and the bus jumped a curb." Several passengers were injured. My guess is this driver was driving recklessly because I have seen that happen too many times in Oakland.

May 21? Port Authority bus hits bicyclist.

May 19? Cars rear-end Port Authority bus.

May 8? Port Authority bus rear-ended.

January 19? Woman killed in car / Port Authority bus accident.

And these are all the results of a brief google search. Add to this the countless stories of friends and myself almost or getting hit by buses. A few years ago, my brother's car was hit by a Port Authority bus. He told them, and they just sent him a check for the damages. No questions asked. How commonplace is this? How are these accidents handled within Port Authority management? Is there a regular process of firing these reckless drivers which endanger pedestrians, riders, bicyclists, and other drivers?

In case, you like many other people in Pittsburgh are at the losing end of an encounter with a Port Authority, there is a due process to follow as outlined in the Post-Gazette way back in 2006 which vents the frustrations that existed back then.

Bike-PGH sets the steps out plainly:

If you’re ever involved in an accident (or incident) with a Port Authority be sure to:

1. Write down the four digit bus identifier number on the back of the bus along with the route number
2. Call the police
3. File a claim with Port Authority by calling 412.442.2000
4. Go directly to your Magisterial District Judge

So remember, if you get in an accident with a Port Authority bus, publicize it and report it. It is ridiculous that the people of Pittsburgh need to live in fear of the buses.


Chris Peak said...

While I'll agree that some bus drivers do seem to be a bit too aggressive given the size of their vehicles, I'm not sure if it's quite the epidemic. For one thing, I would point out that two of the four linked stories involving bus accidents involve buses getting hit, not the other way around.

There are about 170 routes listed on the PAT website; that's a lot of buses on the road, which tends toward a higher statistical probability of incidents. Buses are more likely to be involved in accidents because they're really big and there's a lot of them.

I do agree that it would be nice to know what kind of accountability exists for PAT bus drivers, and you'd hope that it's on the same level as the accounability for truck drivers and school bus drivers.

But if you want to talk the real terror of the streets, let's talk about the people who drive shuttles and tow trucks. They are the scourge of our city, and I doubt there's any kind of accountability there.

erok said...

the cyclist who was hit recently posted to the bikepgh messageboard:

it appears there is some accountability coming, because he said that the bus that hit him was a newer bus that has a black box camera in it that recorded the whole crash. it shows clearly that he was 100% had the right of way, etc. had there been no camera, the driver could lie or whatever about it.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Today there was a story about how an SUV slammed into a Port Authority bus station. So perhaps driving just sucks. Thanks for the checklist, though.

illyrias said...

Well, I've personally almost rear-ended a Port Authority bus because of their erratic driving habits. But most importantly, I've heard way too many stories of pedestrians and bikers being endangered.

Yes, a large percentage of all drivers are bad, but I demand our Port Authority drivers to be cream of the crop, not just average drivers.

Infinonymous said...

The most recent point -- that persons paid to drive buses should be required to provide first-rate driving -- is a good one.