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Wheels come flying off MTA buses in two incidents, one 'horrifying near-miss' caught on camera


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An off-Duty MCI express bus had a wheel that literally flew off its axle and nearly hitting a pedestrian.Crazy enough the bus was from College Point depot where there are tense labor disputes going on.

 

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/06/20/2011-06-20_wheels_come_flying_off_mta_buses_in_two_incidents_one_horrifying_nearmiss_caught.html#ixzz1PqpGVVPZ

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An off-Duty MCI express bus had a wheel that literally flew off its axle and nearly hitting a pedestrian.Crazy enough the bus was from College Point depot where there are tense labor disputes going on.

 

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/06/20/2011-06-20_wheels_come_flying_off_mta_buses_in_two_incidents_one_horrifying_nearmiss_caught.html#ixzz1PqpGVVPZ

 

If i remember correctly wheels started coming off some MTA (Maryland) buses in Baltimore in the past during "labor issues" not sure of the year if anybody familiar can add...

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If i remember correctly wheels started coming off some MTA (Maryland) buses in Baltimore in the past during "labor issues" not sure of the year if anybody familiar can add...
Welcome to the site newbie.B).Odd you mention that.One of my Facebook friends said the same thing about Maryland MTA buses.
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Also i believe the bus or buses were in passenger service and in the Downtown area At the time i only heard on the news but being a low level bus nut it sticks with me Very dangerous game to play if the case is labor discord

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very scary! I have had a number of CP B/O's complain about how there are no mechanics left at CP anymore, and a bunch were reassigned to Brooklyn.

 

Anyone know what happened to that bus with the tire? I assume by the "bus skidded out of control" they mean the driver did not actually crash, but still needed a tow.

 

On that note, I was on a QM5 a few weeks ago where that same tag wheel went flat, and the B/O tried to drive with it since he said it is not really needed to drive, but he couldn't get very far so he discharged us and called the (MTA) tow truck.

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ll I know the guy and you wouldn't believe who he is...so PM me cuz I'm not saying it here and it was bus 3045.

I'm just glad it didnt kill anyone but this was about a month ago so.

 

well I'm just relieved you weren't the driver of that bus at the time of the incident!

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well I'm just relieved you weren't the driver of that bus at the time of the incident!

 

Thanks but to be honest this can happen to any op at any time....Pre-Tripping buses is not good enough if you ask me.

I've seen windows come out...FRONT ones...I've seen Wheelchair doors 18xx swing open while in motion....I've heard AC units falling out the MCI's well 1 for sure.....It's a waiting game and its a dangerous one but we try as best as we could to Operate safely

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I wonder if the MTA determined if this was a catastrophic axle or wheel failure (i.e., the wheel just broke off) or if the lug nuts were loose. The MTA has had the lug nut checking tabs on all of its buses (except the museum feet) for quite some time.

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possibly the BO was in a hurry and could have pulled out a coach that was supposed to be on the shop lane by mistake Was this bus off duty before or after its run when this event happened?

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possibly the BO was in a hurry and could have pulled out a coach that was supposed to be on the shop lane by mistake Was this bus off duty before or after its run when this event happened?

 

not likely. when a bus is still in need of repair, and out of service sign is placed on the front window and is placed in the defect line. im not sure if CP depot has a defect line being that the maintenance bays are single pull-in style, but the sign would have been there anyway.

 

I'm thinking that the wheel flying off might have been complete failure of the wheel itself b/c its very odd that all the wheel lugs came off at the same time. or it could just be a mistake made by maintenance. before we put torque flags on, wheel lugs are suppose to be torqued down to 450 - 550 ft lbs (depending on the bus model) for a second time.

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. I'm thinking that the wheel flying off might have been complete failure of the wheel itself b/c its very odd that all the wheel lugs came off at the same time. or it could just be a mistake made by maintenance. before we put torque flags on, wheel lugs are suppose to be torqued down to 450 - 550 ft lbs (depending on the bus model) for a second time.

 

So the story in the paper about the axle not having been greased when it should have been- do you think that is just BS? I'm not a mechanic, but i find it hard to believe that the entire wheel would fly off like that just because there wasn't enough grease on it.

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Source:Chief-Leader.

 

Posted: Monday, June 20, 2011 5:00 pm | Updated: 4:03 pm, Mon Jun 20, 2011.

 

By FLORA FAIR

 

Four Bus Operators in Queens have been disciplined after refusing to drive buses they said were unsafe. The Metropolitan Transportation Administration has called this a case of drivers ignoring management orders, but Transport Workers Union Local 100 argues that it’s part of a larger pattern of less maintenance and lax standards for MTA buses.

 

The refusals occurred on May 26, while union officials were inspecting buses at the College Point Depot in Queens. Officials said they found 90 buses that day with safety violations that prevented them from being put into service. The surprise inspection followed a string of safety troubles with MTA buses.

 

‘Somebody Could Have Got Killed’

 

On May 23, Bus Operator Neil Winberry was driving a bus from the College Point Depot when the wheel came off, nearly hitting a woman and her baby before slamming into a wall. Though his pre-trip inspection of the bus didn’t reveal any problems, Mr. Winberry said he heard strange noises as he was driving, and then the wheel detached. “The bearings just gave out and it rolled down Northern Blvd. and almost hit pedestrians in the street... The drum, the wheel, the lug nuts—everything came off,” he said, estimating that about 600 pounds of equipment detached. “Definitely somebody could have got killed.”

 

State law requires Bus Operators to perform pre-trip inspections for each shift, but Mr. Winberry said there are some things an external inspection can’t detect, such as worn-out wheel bearings. “We’re driving city streets, we’re running local streets,” he said. “It’s heavy traffic, a lot of braking, a lot of heat—these bearings need to be checked.”

 

That same week, union officials said, a bus out of LaGuardia Depot burst into flames while in service, and another bus out of Queens Village Depot caught fire and burned completely as it was leaving the depot. No one was injured in the incidents, and the MTA said it’s investigating.

 

Local 100 blames cuts in maintenance schedules for the broken-down bus fleet. Wayne Bryan, a Local 100 division vice chair of MTA Buses for two years, said the maintenance situation has gotten worse, especially at College Point. He blamed the budget crunch, which he said has led management to defer maintenance and keep buses on the road as long as possible.

 

‘Things Weren’t Getting Fixed’

 

“We just noticed that things weren’t getting fixed after we write them up,” Mr. Bryan said, adding that drivers would get a bus back weeks later with the very same problem they wrote it up for earlier. “The lower the numbers, the better they look—the managers,” he said.

 

“There’s something going on here. We don’t just go down the road and lose wheels,” Mr. Winberry said. He claimed mechanics are being pressured by management because there’s a shortage of buses to take on the road. “Yard C is the defect yard,” he said, referring to the place buses are taken for repair. “They have actually taken buses out of this yard knowing there’s a defect on this bus.” He continued, “The MTA is cutting corners on safety out here, especially on buses.”

 

One MTA official called the scene with union inspectors at College Point Depot “pretty chaotic,” saying it led to 85 late pullouts that day. After inspectors determined 90 buses needed repairs to be road-ready, four Bus Operators—including one probationary driver—refused to take their buses out.

 

Given 4 Problem Buses

 

Peter Madden Sr. was one of those drivers. He said the day of the inspections, he was given four different buses with safety issues. When he checked the fourth bus and realized its two upper brake lights were out, he told the dispatcher that he couldn’t take it on the road. He said he was then confronted by management, which told him that he was going to take the bus out.

 

“Under 19-A law, it’s a Class-A violation,” Mr. Madden said, referring to state law. He repeatedly said he wouldn’t take the bus, and management told him, “You’re out of service, get off the property."

 

Mr. Madden hasn’t been back at work since. And how does he explain what he calls the MTA’s “Draconian response”? “I can understand that they were frustrated on the day,” he said. “To see one-third of their fleet placed out of service—that is a very high number...They were at a breaking point.”

 

The MTA contends that the problems the drivers cited, which included two out of six rear brake lights not functioning and a wheelchair tie-down not in place, were not a threat to safety. Three drivers have been suspended pending a hearing, and the probationary driver was fired.

 

According to Mr. Bryan, managers will keep drivers on the road using pressure tactics, keeping lists of those who refuse buses or make multiple road calls for bus problems. “They get called in,” he said. “They say it’s not a discipline hearing, but it’s really a form of intimidation.”

 

Put Drivers on Union Payroll

 

Local 100 said the members’ refusals were in accordance with state law and motivated by serious safety concerns. The three suspended drivers were placed on the union’s payroll while it fights out the issue with the MTA.

 

In a May 27 letter to Local 100 President John Samuelsen, MTA Labor Relations Vice President Christopher Johnson said that the buses the operators refused to drive that day were deemed safe by management, and that the drivers defied management orders to take them out. He accused Local 100 Vice President John Day, who was present during the inspections, of remaining silent when the operators were ordered to comply.

 

In a later conversation with Queens North Division Manager Brian Brennan, Mr. Day reportedly warned that, in Mr. Johnson’s words, “the full weight of TWU Local 100 would come down on the Queens North Division” if the employees were not returned to work without disciplinary action. The MTA plans on continuing its disciplinary action against the three drivers, and Mr. Johnson warned that any strike or work stoppage would violate the Taylor Law.

 

In his response, Mr. Samuelsen said that Local 100 was simply doing its job, and that it found dozens of safety violations. He said that “many of the violations were easily remedied” and emphasized that the MTA doesn’t have a “unilateral right” to determine which buses are safe for service. Mr. Samuelsen also accused management of unfairly targeting a probationary employee. “The MTA’s retaliatory suspension of these Bus Operators will not deter TWU Local 100 from continuing the unannounced inspections,” he said in closing, calling the disciplinary actions a form of retaliation, and demanding all four drivers be returned to work.

 

Damned If They Do...

 

Mr. Bryan said the only solution is to fix the buses. “The bottom line is, if anything happens while that bus is out on defect, they’re going to turn it around on us,” he said. “If anything happens, they say, ‘Why’d you take the bus out?’’’ He remarked that even an arbitration on these refusals would mar the drivers’ records.

 

An MTA spokesman acknowledged an “uptick” in bus incidents, and said it’s putting together a committee of Assistant General Managers from each borough to develop a corrective action plan. But he denied that budget cuts play a role in bus problems.

 

“Maintenance schedules have not changed and resources are not an issue,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said. “What we are doing is taking a proactive approach to review processes and best practices for inspecting and correcting issues with our bus fleet.”

 

He also noted that some of the buses are simply old and ready to be retired. Mr. Ortiz said the MTA recently ordered 328 new articulated buses. In the meantime, the Public Transportation Safety Board and the MTA are conducting an investigation into the bus fires and wheel incident.

 

But Mr. Samuelsen thinks the budget is absolutely part of the equation. “If it’s not a budget problem, then it’s a competence problem and a management problem,” he said.

 

Comptroller: Inadequate Checks

 

A January report from state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli supports the local’s argument. It found that in 2007 through 2009, nearly half of all of MTA’s 1,255 required maintenance inspections for buses were performed poorly or not at all, and that 62 percent of the fleet “failed to meet reliability goals despite maintenance costs that topped $777.7 million in 2008.” The audit found this to be double the maintenance costs for other comparable transportation agencies in the U.S. Despite the money spent, the report charged there were more mechanical failures than expected.

 

The Comptroller’s office recommended that the MTA improve fleet reliability and justify or reduce maintenance costs. When the report was released, MTA officials said they had taken steps in the past year to reduce bus-maintenance costs.

 

“Buses have to be somewhat road-worthy...they’re breaking the law,” Mr. Bryan said. “They’re not supposed to intimidate us or fire us or whatever because we’re obeying the law.”

 

Mr. Winberry said it’s time for the union to step up the fight. “We should be out here screaming,” he said.

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4dff5c64612f7.image.jpg

 

 

UP IN SMOKE: This Queens bus from LaGuardia Depot was in service when it burst into flames, but no one was injured. The MTA said it’s investigating what caused the fire. A similar incident occurred June 2 when a bus out of the Queens Village Depot caught fire as the driver was taking it out for service. That bus burned completely

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So the story in the paper about the axle not having been greased when it should have been- do you think that is just BS? I'm not a mechanic, but i find it hard to believe that the entire wheel would fly off like that just because there wasn't enough grease on it.

 

for this to be true, the axle would have had to have been brand new and never had the wheel bearings greased at all. that would be completely on maintenance and would be the cause of whoever worked on the bus last to lose their job.

 

when things like this happen, TA looks for the easiest answer that is believable by all. same thing happened that that bus the caught fire in QV like someone mentioned before. the reason they told us is that there were fuel line that were rubbing on the ECM. the ECM rubbed a whole in the fuel lines, the fuel started to leak, and caused it to go up in flames. a completely feasible answer to some 1 that doesn't know better, but to us its a bunch of b/s. if the bus were powered by gasoline it would be true...but they are diesel powered buses. you can literally put a fire out with diesel. it woun't catch fire unless under extreme heat. but the bosses got an answer they could agree on so thats what the official report says.

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when a bus is still in need of repair, and out of service sign is placed on the front window and is placed in the defect line.

 

but the sign would have been there anyway.

 

 

 

In over twenty years at CP, only twice saw O/O/S on a bus windshield, but sure were given defective buses daily. MTA management does not care, the CP AGM is an idiot who only cares about appearing as a tough guy and intimidating every union employee. He has ordered drivers to leave with defective buses to make service, if driver refused he places then OOS for insubordination. Been going on for a few years now, the CP Union Chair and the AGM are pisanos and been screwing the workers for the last 5 years.

Npw it is all coming out for everybody to see.

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As a maintainer at College Point, I'll tell you who's to blame for that wheel flying off like that. The MTA . It was their directive not to service the tag wheel bearings during a brake job ( to save time). These buses were running around like that for FIVE YEARS! It had to take a near fatal accident to do all the MCI's in the fleet. Let' see how the MTA deals with future bonehead directives.

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