Five days ago, Saturday, September 11 a Megabus traveling from Toronto to Philadelphia took a wrong turn and attempted to drive under a bridge that did not provide enough clearance for the double-decker bus. The top front of the bus was razed, killing 4 passengers and injuring many others. The grisly details are here.
Hans and I were passengers on the inaugural Toronto-Philly route back on July 21, 2010 and when I heard about this fatal crash I was not surprised. Our 10 hour trip was extended to 14 hours, the driver didn’t know how to put the bus into reverse, he veered onto the rumble strips numerous times, one of the luggage doors wasn’t operating properly (similar to a fender-bender that occurred this morning in Philly with Megabus and a SEPTA work truck. No injuries at least.), the driver didn’t know how to downshift to gain more power going uphill, and, like the fatal accident on Saturday, our driver’s GPS unit wasn’t working and different passengers had to help him with directions from Syracuse to Philadelphia. Directions which, at one point, led us through a residential neighborhood and caused the bus driver to attempt a u-turn in the middle of a 4-way intersection. (This illegal u-turn stopped traffic for five minutes as he struggled to put the bus into reverse.)
On July 21, we arrived in Philadelphia safely, albeit 4 hours late. A group of college girls on the bus resorted to calling the police at one point because they were so scared. We were pulled over about 30 miles outside of Philadelphia. I assume the driver was given some hefty fines.
There is a disturbing pattern here, and one that should be addressed by Megabus: poorly trained drivers, inoperable equipment and little or no support from the Megabus switchboard. Some fault, of course, lies with the drivers. Please don’t drive a bus, risking the lives of all the passengers and other drivers on the roads, if you don’t have the proper training. Refuse to leave the station if standard safety equipment is inoperable. Megabus and the NTSB need to work together to ensure safety for customers.
I had a long conversation with a reporter from the Inquirer yesterday about our experience with Megabus. The writers at the Inquirer are not going to let this drop and are going to continue publishing stories addressing the structural flaws of the Megabus company and government regulation.