Three people—a pedestrian, charter bus driver and passenger—were killed, while another 16 were injured, on Monday in a horrific crash in which a charter bus and an MTA bus collided on Northern Boulevard, and then slammed into a storefront.
According to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, the driver of the charter bus—which is owned by Dahlia Travel &Tours—was traveling at a rate of 54 to 62 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone. Video surveillance of the incident appeared to show the bus driving quickly through a red light. MTA Chairman Joe Lhota pointed out that the high rate of speed caused the buses to spin around after impact. This news alone is greatly unsettling.
Even more disturbing, news reports since the accident have noted that the charter bus company was involved in another fatal crash in February 2016 and that Raymond Mong—who was operating the charter bus and among the three killed in the crash—was a fired MTA bus driver who had pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a crash in 2015. Mong may also have been illegally employed, as the Department of Motor Vehicles said that it had no record of being notified that Dahlia had hired him—which was a requirement due to his prior DUI arrest.
Council members Peter Koo and Ydanis Rodriguez have rightfully called for greater oversight of city charter buses. We believe that background checks, cracking down on the number of hours drivers are allowed to be behind the wheel and increased enforcement are steps in the right direction. Charter bus companies should be able to guarantee that all their drivers have clean records before they obtain or renew a permit to operate in the five boroughs.
Passengers and pedestrians should be able to travel the streets of New York City without fear that an incident similar to the one that took place on Monday in Flushing could endanger them.