Sunday, September 7, 2003

Lexington transit unsafe, says report

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - A draft safety report on Lexington's public transit system says the city's aging fleet of buses is "a danger to drivers and to the public."

The report also says the Lexington Transit Authority's at-fault accident rate is four times the national average, said Rick Loghry, the authority's executive director.

The report found that LexTran's vehicle upkeep is marginal and that it lacks ongoing defensive-driving training. Loghry acknowledged that LexTran's buses are old and that safety and training must improve.

But he disputed the part of the report by Shelbyville-based Occupational Safety and Hygiene Inc. that said "the majority of the existing fleet has far exceeded its useful service life" and is a danger.

"Granted, they're not totally well-maintained, but I don't think there is any set point in time that says when it hits this point, it's dangerous," Loghry said. "I think it's up to our people to determine when we have a safety problem and take it out of the fleet at that time."

However, the report said tension between drivers and management has eased since a year ago, when employees protested what they said was unfair treatment by management and unsafe buses. LexTran's previous executive director, Stephen Rowland, resigned in May.

The audit reviewed 123 at-fault crashes by LexTran drivers from July 2000 to July 2003. It said 38 percent were caused by drivers' inability to turn a corner without hitting something.

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