Car Collides With Orange Line Bus
NORTH HOLLYWOOD -- Fifteen people were injured Wednesday in the first major accident on the new Metro Orange Line, which began operating over the weekend.
The collision between one of the specially designed buses and a car occurred in the 6000 block of Woodman Avenue, near Oxnard Street, at 2:05 p.m., said Brian Humphrey of the city fire department.
Humphrey told KCAL9 that 15 people were injured, including 14 on the bus and the female driver of a silver car that apparently struck the side of the Orange Line bus.
The driver was at first listed in critical condition, but Humphrey said her condition was upgraded to fair.
The 78-year-old Woodland Hills woman was originally sent to St. Joseph's Medical Center in Burbank, but then rerouted to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, he said.
Humphrey said the woman's seat belt and air bag minimized her injuries. Fourteen people aboard the Orange Line bus were hospitalized, but with only minor injuries, Humphrey said.
"There were no reports of any serious or critical injuries on the bus," he said in a broadcast report.
The cause of the accident was unclear, although Humphrey said witnesses claimed the car drove into the side of the 60-foot bus.
Rick Jager, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said the Orange Line busway was temporarily blocked at Woodman and Oxnard, so buses were using surface streets to move around the area and keep the service running.
Gayle Anderson of MTA said the intersection was cleared by about 3:45 p.m. and the buses began running normally.
Anderson said 40 people were on the bus when the accident occurred. She said the bus was heading east, and the vehicle that struck the bus was heading south. Witnesses at the scene said the driver of the car ran a red light and may have been talking on a cell phone, according to Anderson.
She said the car struck the bus near the center, then spun around and hit the bus again.
It was the second accident of the day on the Orange Line, which opened amid concerns about safety because of its multiple crossings through San Fernando Valley intersections, which do not feature crosing gates like train lines.
Anderson said a minor accident occurred around 11:15 a.m. involving an elderly woman who allegedly ran a red light and hit an Orange Line bus near Topham Street and Corbin Avenue.
Nobody was injured in that collision, Anderson said.
The minor accident, however, prompted county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky to take a ride on the line. After that ride, Yaroslavsky sent a letter to MTA chief executive officer Roger Snoble asking that Orange Line drivers be more cautious when they approach intersections because some motorists run red lights.
"We know drivers have a tendency to run the lights," said Yaroslavsky aide Joel Bellman. "The MTA has really gone out of its way to emphasize the safety issues."
The 14-mile Orange Line, which runs on a dedicated busway between Woodland Hills and North Hollywood, opened with free rides on Saturday. An estimated 30,000 people rode the line during Saturday's free trial.
In response to this afternoon's accident, City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel scheduled a meeting for tomorrow at her office with county and city transportation and police officials to discuss safety issues. The meeting will be closed to the public, but participants are expected to discuss the results with the media afterward.
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