METRO bus and train collide downtown

March 15, 2010 9:09:57 PM PDT
It's happened again. A METRO bus and light rail train collided Monday afternoon, and it happened in the same intersection as a bus-train crash just one month ago. In Monday's crash, nearly 20 people were injured. This has left some wondering if a change needs to be made at that intersection to make it safer. METRO officials are taking a closer look at the intersection while many riders approached the light rail platform with caution.

"It makes me scared. Scared to ride it, but I'm glad I don't ride it that often," said rider Javechia Crawfrd.

"A little bit of trepidation, absolutely," said rider Christina Carbon.

It happened at the intersection of Main and St. Joseph Parkway. The METRO bus was heading west and light rail train heading north. They collided, pushing the rail car off its tracks and shattering the windshield on the bus and injuring more than a dozen passengers on both, including the bus driver.

"We're transporting 19 patients to area hospitals," said Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Karen Dupont, who said most patients complained of minor back and neck pain.

It happened at the same intersection outside METRO headquarters, where five weeks ago there was another bus-light rail collision. Investigators determined in that crash the bus driver ran a red light.

"This is a bus that actually has cameras on board, so we will pull the cameras from there. We will do diagnostics on the traffic signal to find out if this is another unfortunate accident or something systemic going on here," said METRO Spokesperson Raquel Roberts.

The local transports workers union president says two accidents in less than 90 days is definitely a red flag.

"There may be some issues and we're concerned about the signaling," said union President David Gollinger. "And we want that fully investigated."

Some riders say they have witnessed how busy and dangerous the intersection can be.

"All cars think they have the right of way if they are in a hurry and guess what, they are going to come and the rail is not going to stop for them, so it was an accident waiting to happen. I figured sooner or later it was going to happen to a bus," said rider Tilicia Ware.

"I just don't understand how this keeps happening," said rider Janet Gates.

The bus, we're told, had a camera aboard it and there are always cameras aboard the light rail train. The combination of those two sets of eyes may help the investigation move forward.

METRO says the bus driver involved in February's accident ran a red light and hit the train. The bus driver, Reginald Rideout, was suspended without pay until an investigation is complete. It was his third accident, and METRO says all of them were his fault.

If you caught photos or video of this breaking news event, you can send them to ABC13 Eyewitness News here.

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