After a minor bus collision April 7, Lehigh’s Mountaintop buses have maintained their normal routes and schedules.
The collision occurred on a rainy day and involved two buses that were driving on Sayre Drive near the Chi Psi fraternity house. The buses sideswiped in the portion of the road where the road curves, resulting only in minor damage.
Katherine Howlin, ’16, a student on the mountaintop bus at the time of the accident, said the bus she was on hit a Lehigh Athletics bus that was coming down the road as they passed each other because there wasn’t enough room. She said although no one was injured, two windows shattered and there were glass shards on the bus.
Bob Bruneio, the manager of Lehigh’s Transportation Services, said no follow-up with the students on the bus was needed, and being as both vehicles were functioning, students were dropped off at their regular stops after the Lehigh University Police Department came to the scene.
Chief Ed Shupp of the LUPD said it was a normal accident, and was investigated as such. LUPD was not particularly concerned by the accident because it was an isolated incident, and because pedestrians weren’t involved and no one was hurt.
“Vehicles can be replaced,” Shupp said. “People cannot.”
Although some students feel that driving on the Hill can be tricky due to the narrow roads, Bruneio reassures that the drivers are all properly trained.
“All of our bus drivers are thoroughly trained,” Bruneio said. “All are State (Commercial Drivers Licensed) Class B drivers who are required to follow all Department of Transportation guidelines and also are required to complete physical and drug and alcohol tests every year. They also are given instruction and must take a road test with each vehicle they operate. If our drivers do not meet the strict guidelines, they do not operate our buses.”
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation official website, Class B drivers are classified by the vehicle they operate. They operate any single vehicle rated in excess of 26,000 pounds.
Shupp said although campus roads are narrow and tricky, the buses have been driving around campus for years and there have rarely been accidents. According to Bruneio, there were three Lehigh University bus-related minor accidents in 2014.
Shupp said he believes the bus drivers do a great job handling the roads and terrain that makes up Lehigh’s roads, especially considering that people have a tendency to walk on the roads instead of on the sidewalk, which makes it even more difficult to operate these vehicles.
In certain areas on the hill, however, there are no sidewalks for pedestrians to utilize.
Howlin said she takes Lehigh buses multiple times a day, and that she hasn’t stopped taking them since the accident.
“I don’t think the driver or anyone could have done anything to prevent the accident,” Howlin said. “I just don’t think the buses really fit on the roads.”
Shupp said if people take their time, follow the law and drive 15 mph, that the roads are safe. He also said although there are ways to make the road wider, that it may not be necessary, and that people can’t overreact to a single isolated bus accident.
Lehigh transportation provides services for over 100,00 people per year, so safety is of paramount importance. Bruneio said concerns and suggestions are welcome, and that transportation services often works with Lehigh Student Senate to make improvements.