Investigation done in bus vs. railroad crossing gate probe

A SamTrans bus entered a railroad crossing as lights were flashing, but before the gate lowered, according to an internal investigation of a July incident in Menlo Park that left a railroad crossing arm broken, an agency spokesperson said.

Bus 119, running route 296, had just left the Menlo Park Caltrain station carrying five passengers before breaking off the railroad crossing arm shortly before 9:30 a.m. on July 30, SamTrans spokeswoman Christine Dunn told the Almanac. Seconds later, southbound train 230 arrived and ran over the broken crossing arm. No one was injured.

A witness had reported hearing "a loud snapping sound" and seeing the bus hurtling across the tracks as the crossing arm flew through the air and landed on the tracks at Oak Grove Avenue.

Ms. Dunn said a video recording from a camera mounted on the bus showed that it did not crash through the crossing arm. The lights were flashing as the bus entered the crossing and the gate was up, but as the bus continued, the gate came down on the roof of the bus, toward the rear, and broke away on impact as it is designed to do, she said.

The driver, an employee of the transit agency for more than 10 years, continues to be employed by SamTrans, Ms. Dunn said. Disciplinary action, if any, would be a confidential personnel matter, the agency said.

California' vehicle code requires drivers to stop buses between 15 and 50 feet from a railroad crossing and listen for approaching trains before proceeding across the tracks. If gates are down, drivers must wait until the arms rise and warning bells stop ringing, according to SamTrans policy.


Like this comment
Posted by gina
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Nov 27, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Off course sams trans is innocent. Aren't they always. hog wash I have been on plenty of sams trans bus's when they barrel onto the tracks when the arms are coming down. Sams Trans also said they stop behind the gates when the bells and arms start coming down. again hogwash. There was one time on Ravenwood Avenue crossing near Keplers, the bus stopped on the tracks because traffic had backed up. then the gates started to lower as the train was leaving Menlo Station. For a few seconds there was a good chance I thought the train was going to hit the bus. for sams trans to say the arm on the crossing at the oak grove crossing grade came down and broke after the bus had cross the tracks is bull shit. Giving the eye witness who saw the bus break though the crossing arms and full speed when the train was coming and given sams trans accidents from years past I believe the eyewitness and what they saw. Like I said in the beginning Sams trans is innocent and peter pefect. Depends on who you choose to believe and in this case it aint Sam Trans. They blew through the crossing grades once and they will do it again and again.

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