Crash Factor: One CTA bus accident every 36 hours

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
CHICAGO (WLS) -- After a high profile downtown deadly bus crash this past summer the I-Team uncovered hundreds of accidents involving CTA buses citywide.

For CTA buses, that crash factor is 36 hours. Every day and a half in Chicago, a city bus is involved in a crash and the I-Team discovered a surprising number of injuries in CTA accident reports.

Every day Jerry Wagner journeys nearly two hours from his home in Oak Lawn to physical therapy for a broken hip after, he said, some students ran into him on a CTA bus this spring.

"They started pushing and shoving each other, I was at the back door and I literally got pushed out the back door. I hit the pavement. I don't think, as a matter of fact I know, the bus driver didn't know I fell because they just kept right on going after the door shut and I'm laying here thinking, 'What the hell is going on here?'" Wagner said.

Following the deadly crash when a CTA bus jumped a curb at Michigan and Lake earlier this summer, the I-Team uncovered hundreds of accidents involving CTA buses citywide.

PHOTOS: CTA bus crash on Michigan Avenue

In Roscoe Village in January 2014, city records show a bus "started a chain-reaction," smashing into two parked SUVs and a minivan.

In Bronzeville in September 2014, a southbound bus crossed into the northbound lanes and hit two parked cars and a fence. Seven people were injured.

At Jackson and Central on the West Side in July 2014, a bus crashes into three parked vehicles injuring 14 people. Witnesses couldn't believe it.

"I've seen a bus accident before but not as many cars as it was," said Ray Jones.

Two different bus drivers losing consciousness, tires falling in construction holes, even a bus crashing into a viaduct; city data shows in 2014 alone nearly 500 people were injured in CTA bus crashes.

"CTA buses are extremely safe," says Brian Steele, CTA spokesperson. "Everyday people are taking CTA bus trips and the overwhelming majority of those trips are without incident and when you look at the crashes compared to the amount of miles that we travel, the number really is low."

CTA officials say most of the crashes involving buses aren't their fault, but instead, are caused by other drivers.

"We have a lot of incidents in which vehicles rear-end buses, turn in front of buses, sideswipe them, so only a small percentage is really the result of actions by CTA bus drivers," Steele says.

After the I-Team showed Jerry Wagner our crash data, he said he's ready for his hip to heal so he can be cleared to drive and ditch the bus for good.

"I worry about it," he says. "I'll be glad when I can use the car again."

CTA officials say they study all accident reports to see if there are ways that they can use what happened to improve their training.

To check out the accidents in your neighborhood and peruse the city's accident paperwork, click here.
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