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Are bus drivers in the Puget Sound area getting worse?

Are bus drivers in the Puget Sound area getting worse? Did you hear about the King County Metro bus that went the wrong way on the I-5 express lanes? How could this happen? (Image courtesy WSDOT)

Are bus drivers in the Puget Sound area getting worse?

Earlier this week, we were covering the King County Metro bus that went the wrong way on the I-5 Express Lanes? How could this happen? How does a professional driver go the wrong way on the I-5 Express Lanes? How many times have you gone the wrong way on the I-5 Express Lanes? It’s unimaginable to me.

But this seems to be a growing trend. We’re trying to get answers right now, because remember back last May when that Sound Transit bus went out of control in Totem Lake and plowed into an SUV, killing an elderly couple when their son was driving?

I realized we haven’t heard the results of that investigation. They told us in June the brakes were fine. We’ve left messages with Sound Transit as we try to get answers. This was last May that that happened. Is that driver still on paid administrative leave now, five months after that accident?

I’ll tell you something else. In the last week, I have seen two buses, personally, just out driving around, I’ve seen two buses horribly run red lights.

One was on about 135th and Lake City Way. The light was all the way red before the bus entered the intersection to turn left onto Lake City Way. My light was green to proceed on Lake City Way and this bus came right through the intersection.

Then just earlier this week, at Roanoke, the Roanoke overpass right by the radio station, I saw a Sound Transit bus run a full red light up on Roanoke.

Listener Glenn was able to capture a bus running a red light on video.

I’m telling you that light was red before this bus entered the intersection. It’s shocking to see. It’s really scary because again if somebody just goes on green. We’re going to see more people killed if this continues.

I don’t know if bus drivers are getting more pressure to be on time. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve lived here my whole life and I have never seen such horrible bus driving as I’ve seen the last few months around the Puget Sound area.

I’ve never had serious complaints about how bus drivers drive in all my years living here, but this seems to be an epidemic. The couple gets killed in Totem Lake. A bus goes the wrong way on the express lanes. I’m watching two buses run red lights in the last week. This is a serious issue.

I’m curious about your observations.

Here are a few of your D-mails:

Listener Alysha writes:

“I am a UW student. I see buses run red lights almost every day. It’s almost like it’s just commonplace for cars to wait for them to go through before proceeding. They have also often blocked intersections. It is usually when traffic is really bad and I agree, it may be pressure for them to be more on time.

In light of the shooting that happened to the bus driver downtown earlier this year, I am hesitant to blame the drivers for the bad driving. They are under serious pressure.”

A listener who is apparently a Metro driver writes:

“You were discussing bus drivers running red lights. There is no reason for a bus driver to blatantly run a light. However, in regards to another listener complaining that drivers block intersections, drive “aggressively”, Metro has cut break or recovery times on several routes to the point that drivers have to drive “assertively”, not aggressively.

Yes, we block intersections. Sometimes we have to because there are very few courteous drivers that will allow a 40′ or 60′ coach change lanes or turn onto a street. I have sat for as long as 10 light cycles in a turn lane because traffic will not give me a chance to pull out and not block a lane or intersection.

Drivers have to do what they have to do to get passengers from point A to point B, but our safety record is still pretty good. You don’t like buses blocking streets and intersections, then give drivers a break and don’t hinder them at their jobs.”

Listener Clint writes:

“I believe it was last year, on a regular bus to a Seahawks game (either a Monday or Thursday game), the driver ran a red light, laughed and said the light was ‘metro green.'”

Listener Adam writes:

“I went to McDonald’s this morning before work. When leaving I had to stop at a light and saw a bus run a red light 2 seconds after the light turned red. I laughed and said to myself. Maybe Dori is right.”

Listener Don writes:

“I used to take Metro into Seattle. Last week, our driver when on the highway merged into the HOV lane and almost rammed into a car. The car screech for about 8 seconds before the driver re-gained control. Some of the passengers on the bus reported the driver and now she drives well under the speed limit to the point that most of us are now late for work. So now I commute by Sounder Train.”

Taken from Friday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.

Photos: Wrong-way bus on I-5 Express Lanes
State Patrol says nothing wrong with Sound Transit bus that killed two in Kirkland crash


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