Last Friday, two Capital Metro buses collided on South Pleasant Valley. Cap Metro surveillance video obtained by FOX 7 shows a man driving an empty bus and crashing into another bus picking up passengers at the stop. There were passengers on that bus. Nine people were taken to the hospital.
“The buses don't have seat belts, these buses are 10’s of thousands of pounds. When they hit each other there is tremendous force, violent forces where the passengers are thrown around because there's nothing to protect them,” said attorney Brad Bonilla who is representing a passenger injured on the bus.
By the way, contractor Travis Transit says the man driving the bus is actually a mechanic with a Class B CDL.
Bonilla’s client recorded video of the aftermath with his cell phone.
“He has limited use of his left arm, he got thrown into the seat,” Bonilla said.
According to the police report Bonilla received, the driver told police he must have quote “zoned out” because by the time he saw the other bus, it was too late.
“When I look at that...and having the driver admit to the police that he zoned out...to me there was some failure in driver qualification, in driver screening, in driver training. There’s some safety lapse,” Bonilla said.
That police report also says the driver was cited for "failure to maintain clear and assured distance."
Cap Metro’s Vice President of Bus Operations Dottie Watkins couldn't speak in detail about the accident because it's being investigated.
“Every single accident that we have, we investigate. We try and identify what was the root cause of the crash so that we can learn from the incident,” Watkins said.
Cap Metro buses have been having a rough time lately. Air conditioning issues:
“When we had the extreme heat last week we just had a number of units that were unable to keep up with the record-setting temperatures so the systems shut themselves down,” Watkins said.
And this week, a mechanical failure lead to a bus catching fire on 183 and County Road 181.
“Out of an abundance of caution we did inspect the entire fleet of similar vehicles to make sure that the same mechanical failure was not present on those vehicles and we, within the exact same day, were able to get all of those buses inspected and determined they were ready for service,” Watkins said
Regarding the collision, Bonilla says he's asked Cap Metro about voluntarily letting one of his experts inspect the bus. He says the crash has affected the livelihood of his client.
“He’s a blue collar, physical labor guy. This really affects him. And we intend on asking Capital Metro to pay for that,” Bonilla said.
Michael Birch, Vice President and General Manager of Travis Transit told FOX 7 about their driver:
"We have worked closely with Capital Metro on determining the cause of the incident on 7/27. At Travis Transit, the safety of our passengers, employees and the general public are and have always been our number one priority."