Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday requested a federal investigation of Megabus, its history and business and operating practices in the wake of two fatal accidents in Illinois involving the low-cost motorcoach company over the past week.
Quinn acted after the National Transportation Safety Board decided against launching its own investigation into Megabus accidents near Union Station in Chicago on Tuesday that killed a pedestrian; and a high-speed wreck downstate on Aug. 2 on Interstate Highway 55 near Litchfield that killed one Megabus passenger and injured dozens of others when the Megabus carrying them from Chicago crashed into a concrete pillar of an overpass.
In a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Quinn asked the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to investigate Megabus “to ensure that all proper procedures and precautions are in place regarding vehicles and drivers in accordance with state and federal law.’’
The federal motor carrier agency, which is part of U.S. DOT, regulates safety pertaining to the large commercial truck and motorcoach industries.
“We believe that a full federal investigation into the operations and history of the firm would provide a baseline for any policy changes or other considerations that might logically result from what is learned about these crashes,’’ Quinn wrote to LaHood, who is a former congressman from the Peoria area.
Federal transportation officials were not immediately available to provide the Tribune with a response to Quinn’s request.
Illinois State Police officials said the highway crash near Litchfield may have been sparked by a blown tire on the bus that caused the driver to lose control. But investigators said other issues are being analyzed, including the high center of gravity on the double-deck Megabus fleet. Megabus officials said after the accident that the bus was manufactured in 2011 and passed a company inspection days before the crash.
Meanwhile, Chicago police are still investigating the accident at Adams and Canal streets in the West Loop Tuesday in which a Megabus driver making a turn struck Donna Halstead, 76, with its side mirror while the elderly resident of the neighborhood was attempting to cross the street in a crosswalk. Halstead was knocked to the pavement and later died.
The bus driver, Shemeka Hudson, 32, was ticketed for failing to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk.