Shiny happy buses – PSTA finds that its Sunrunner bus driver was not wearing seatbelt at time of crash

A preliminary PSTA investigative report obtained by the Guardian states that the driver of a Sunrunner bus involved in an accident on May 3rd at 8:05 AM was speeding and not wearing his seat belt one minute before the accident. The other driver was cited for careless driving in the accident.

PSTA COO James Bradford confirmed that “operator” in the report means “PSTA bus driver.”

“The PSTA bus operator was speeding and not wearing his seat belt shortly before the accident,” Bradford told the Guardian on Wednesday. PSTA also said that the bus operator was not speeding at the time of the accident.”

In other words, the bus driver was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. Bradford was unavailable to immediately confirm that this was the case, but that is what we conclude. We are now in the process of finding out what the bus driver told law enforcement about his “seat belt status” at the time of the crash, if he told them anything at all.

This is the second Sunrunner-involved crash in just four days. The Guardian will be reporting more on both crashes shortly.

We asked Bradford via email about the preliminary PSTA investigative report that we obtained because it said the accident location was “75th Ave and Gulf Blvd,” whereas the picture shows that it actually occurred on 1st Avenue South.

“Mr. Bradford said that it occurred on 1st & 49th,” Rachael Cappolla, Executive Assistant to PSTA CEO Brad Miller responded via email. “The form had a typo.”

PSTA’s head of Safety, Security and Training (SST) Theo Bakomhalis said that on-board video of all accident are reviewed in order to grade them as either preventable or non-preventable. This is done separately from any law enforcement or other agency investigation of a crash. It an accident is graded “preventable” it may be sent to PSTA’s Transportation department for write-up of the bus operator.

The Guardian has reported extensively on the congestion-causing Sunrunner bus line that launched in October of 2022. See all of our articles on the Sunrunner.

In operating their shiny, happy buses, PSTA may have forgotten that the lyrics in the famous R.E.M. song “Shiny Happy People” were a satirical translation of the Communist Chinese government’s propaganda following the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Thousand of protesters were killed, wounded or arrested by the government.

Like communists in China and everywhere, is PSTA failing to consider actual behavior of other people drivers as opposed to desired behavior? If so, there could be a lot more Sunrunner crashes.

As always, the Guardian reports and the readers decide. Please like our Facebook page to find out when we publish new stories.

Final note: we invited Bradford, Miller and Cappolla to immediately let us know if they thought there are any factual errors in this article. They did not allege any factual errors.