San Diego woman questions MTS bus door safety

San Diego (KGTV) - Nancy Cuskaden says she hasn’t owned a car for about two decades.

She relies on the bus to help get around town and to see her family.

"The drivers are very cordial, very helpful,” she said.

Cuskaden can’t say similarly kind words about the bus doors.

She gave Team 10 a video showing her getting on a Metropolitan Transit System bus last July.

Cuskaden says the video shows the doors open, then swing back toward her, hitting her in the arm.

"It decides it's going to shut and goes boom, jackknife,” she said.

She filed a claim with MTS.

Cuskaden says the transit system rejected the claim saying her loss was not the result of any negligence on the part of MTS. She says they did offer a year-long bus pass in exchange for a signed release of all claims as a good will gesture.

"I’m thinking right, who's good gesture,” she said.

Cuskaden passed on the offer and filed a lawsuit.

She told Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin she has concerns with how the bus door that hit her opens and closes.

Team 10 sat at the bus stop at University and 54th watching how this particular bus door opens and closes.

10News saw some people bumping into or getting nudged as they as they got on and off the bus.

When it opens, the door pops out, starts to open and then swings back as if it’s closing.  It then starts to open again.

Riders tell 10News that movement is confusing.

MTS declined an on camera interview but answered questions through email.

When asked if that’s the way the door is supposed to function a spokesperson responded, “The doors are designed to open and remain open.”

Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin asked If no – why is the door swinging back toward passengers – in some instances making contact?

The MTS spokesperson answered, “The doors are adjusted for level operations. At some stops the road near the curb is very steep, causing the door to rebound off the stop and to swing back slightly.”

In another email exchange asking if MTS plans to make any changes to correct that, spokesperson Rob Schupp wrote, “We are constantly looking at ways to make all of our systems safer. We will look at the NABI door adjustment to try to correct for this.”

That bus door isn’t the only one confusing riders.

Team 10 got surveillance videos showing bus doors making contact with passengers.

According to MTS data from 2013 through June of this year, there have been more than 300 bus door incidents.

For context, according to MTS website the transit service generates 92 million annual passenger trips or 310,000 trips each weekday.

MTS says since 2013, 39 claims have been filed regarding bus door incidents. During that same time frame MTS has paid out $34,140 for claims related to bus door incidents, 17 claims were resolved in a payment to the passenger, ranging from annual passes to $10,000.

“I’m just making sure my whole body is on this bus,” said transit rider Lashawn Wyatt.

She told 10News her husband was boarding a bus when the doors closed.

"His body was stuck halfway on the bus and halfway off the bus, and they were getting ready to drive off with his body hanging halfway in and halfway off,” Wyatt said.

MTS says it strives to reduce preventable accidents and claims to zero. “While the goal is zero, MTS recognizes that a number of accidents will take place. It has a thorough process to review claims. When warranted, we make appropriate restitution to the passenger.” 

Below are other questions Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin asked MTS and their response.

Q: How many accidents/claims take place before an investigation is opened into whether parts of the bus are functioning correctly.

A: Every reported incident, whether there is a claim or not, is thoroughly investigated by MTS.

Q: What is MTS’s policy when a bus door makes contact with a passenger?

A: Bus operators make note of all incidents. Video is reviewed by MTS safety/training personnel and, if necessary, by maintenance personnel. If it is determined the Bus Operator was operating unsafely, the video is reviewed with the operator. The operator may be reprimanded.

Q: Is it possible there are more “bus door incidents” that have happened but not reported by drivers or passengers?

A: Yes.

Q: What safety precautions are in place system-wide to prevent bus door incidents?

A: MTS acts on every incident to improve the safety of operational and mechanical aspects of our business. Again,  Bus operators make note of all incidents. Video is reviewed by MTS safety/training personnel and, if necessary, by maintenance personnel. If it is determined the Bus Operator was operating unsafely, the video is reviewed with the operator. The operator may be reprimanded.

Q: Also is there any overall statement you’d like to make on bus door safety?

A: Passenger safety is MTS’ top priority. MTS Bus has been awarded the Gold Award for Safety in two of the past three years by the American Public Transportation Association in competition with large agencies across North America. This past year, it was awarded for a program that reduced preventable accidents involving pedestrians to zero. This was accomplished with changes to equipment and extensive training.

Print this article Back to Top