Failure to apply manual brake caused driverless UTA bus to roll, officials say (with video)
By Mariah Noble The Salt Lake Tribune
Published May 17, 2017 6:12 pm
Investigation • Driver has been retrained on braking procedures.
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Utah Transit Authority officials said Wednesday that an operating error caused a bus rolling 60 feet down a hill without its driver almost two weeks ago.
Though the bus driver had applied electronic brakes and air brakes before exiting the bus to fix a problem May 5, she forgot to apply manual brakes, which caused the incident, Chief Safety and Security Officer Dave Goeres said at a Wednesday news conference.
"This is something that should not happen," Goeres said.
The "bus driver had exited northbound Interstate 215 that morning at Foothill Boulevard and pulled onto the right shoulder of the road because the engine was overheating, Goeres said. She stopped the bus, informed passengers there was an issue and exited, forgetting the procedural step of applying the manual break in the "stressful situation," Goeres said.
In attempt to remedy the overheated engine, the driver reset the bus' battery from outside, Goeres said, which is not an uncommon occurrence. When the battery reset, the doors closed and the brakes that had been applied disengaged, causing the bus to roll down the hill.
Goeres said the bus traveled about 60 feet, or one and a half bus lengths, in the shoulder before a passenger who had moved into the driver seat could stop the bus.
Witnesses said while the bus was rolling, the driver ran beside the bus, yelling "Put on the brake! Put on the brake!" Passengers had tried to open the door for the driver while the bus rolled but were unsuccessful.
UTA released video footage of the incident Wednesday from a camera inside the bus and another on the front of the bus. To protect the privacy of passengers and the driver, faces are blurred and the sound has been removed, Goeres said. The clip begins when the bus is initially stopped on Foothill Boulevard and continues until the passenger stops the bus.
Goeres apologized to passengers especially one who suffered minor injuries during the incident for the "unsafe conditions" during the incident and commended them for their "quick response" that prevented more severe injuries.
To prevent similar incidents in the future, Goeres said, UTA has posted signs in bus facilities and is placing stickers in buses as reminders to operators.
Goeres described the bus operator as an "experienced driver" who has executed the procedure properly "many, many times." She has been retrained since the incident and is driving buses again, he said.
The passenger who suffered minor injuries has been in contact with UTA's legal department to "remedy that situation," Goeres said.
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