Crash puts focus on transitway safety

University police said drivers should pay attention to stop signs and other warning devices that protect the bus right-of-way.

Stephanie Kudrle

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An accident on the University’s transitway has prompted some to question the road’s safety.

On Tuesday, a Campus Connecter bus collided with another vehicle at the intersection of Malcolm Avenue Southeast and the transitway, which connects the University’s Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses.

It was the second transitway crash this year and the fifth in the past three years, Parking and Transportation manager Bill Stahlmann said.

Nearby, business employees said the accident was not surprising.

Tom Heiman, who works at a Malcolm Avenue business, said buses do not seem to slow down when going through the intersection.

“The buses go too fast,” Heiman said. “They take that right-of-way pretty seriously.”

University police Capt. Steve Johnson said officers have done occasional speed enforcement on the transitway in the past and that it might be something they should consider doing again.

But Johnson said people need to complain about speeding if it is a problem.

“People need to call us if they’re seeing this,” Johnson said.

He also said drivers need to pay attention to stop signs and flashing lights, which alert drivers to a coming bus.

Michael Beery, who works at Imagin Studios, located at 504 Malcolm Ave., said he would like to see more devices installed to warn drivers of oncoming buses.

“You get used to going back and forth across (the transitway),” Beery said. “There have been times when I thought ‘Wow, why didn’t I see that bus?’ “

Stahlmann said there are already safety precautions in place to warn drivers about buses. At the Malcolm Avenue intersection there is a stop sign and an illuminated sign triggered by a camera to alert drivers.

“At 30 miles per hour, there’s 12 seconds (of warning) before the bus hits the intersection,” Stahlmann said.

He added that the lighted sign at Malcolm Avenue had been checked and was functioning the day before the accident.

Juan Moreno, owner of a metal finishing shop on Malcolm Avenue, said he disagrees.

He said he has seen many times when the warning signs weren’t flashing and questioned whether they were blinking before the accident.

“Every time I cross the road, I’m scared to death,” Moreno said.

Students said they think Campus Connectors are safe and that transitway speed is not an issue.

“I think (the buses) are fine,” first-year student Jon Husom said. “I hadn’t really thought about crashing into cars.”

Junior Maggie Harkins agreed.

“I think they’re relatively safe.” Harkins said. “I don’t think they go too fast.”

– Branden Peterson contributed to this report.

TRANSITWAY
Methods of preventing crashes along the University’s transitway:
ïStop signs
ïElectronic warning signs activated by cameras
ïPolice speed enforcement