FOX Undercover has obtained exclusive video the MBTA does not want you to see. It's video from MBTA buses that shows everything from crashes to other on-board mishaps.
Hundreds of MBTA buses have cameras which are always recording and capturing some unusual images. We first asked for copies of these videos last summer, but the MBTA refused to give them to us, citing concerns about people's privacy.
So we appealed to the Secretary of State, who is the supervisor of public records in Massachusetts, and his office ordered the MBTA to hand over the accident videos from 2009. ( Read the Sec. of State's order to the MBTA to turn over the videos )
Some of those videos show ( see raw video of the crashes on the left):
-- A bus that did not maintain a safe following distance hits a car, sending bus passengers flying. Four passengers went to the hospital.
-- A car stops to let a pedestrian cross. The bus behind it hits the brakes, causing a child passenger to hit his head hard on the rail in front of him.
-- A woman passenger with a cane gets up while a bus is still moving because the driver has passed her stop. The woman falls down and then gives the driver, who says the buzzer did not ring until he passed the stop, a piece of her mind.
-- A man in a wheelchair tries to board a bus. As the driver moves toward the back of the bus to make room for the wheelchair, the passenger maneuvers his wheelchair onto the ramp and then flips over backwards onto the sidewalk.
"We have accidents every day," says Sue Lebbossiere, the MBTA's supervisor of training and bus operations. She says more than 300 MBTA buses are equipped with cameras which record video from all angles, inside and outside the buses.
"We're shocked and surprised by some of what we see, but more from what we see from the public," says Lebbossiere.
-- A bus camera catches a drunk driver on video crashing into a parked car, then into the bus, and then into another parked car.
-- A car from a driving school cuts off a bus and then stops suddenly, causing the bus to smack into its rear end.
"We use those cameras to see who was at fault in any accident," says MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan.
The MBTA's own incident reports, obtained by Fox Undercover, show that sometimes it's the bus driver who's at fault. We saw several incidents captured on video of bus drivers ignoring stop signs, and causing accidents as a result.
EXCERPT FROM MIKE BEAUDET'S BLOG:
"Here’s my email exchange with MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. It’s just another example of the MBTA’s lack of cooperation. On a side note, I found it quite funny that Pesaturo sent this email exchange to my co-workers on our news assignment desk. Not quite sure why he did that. I guess he thought going over my head might cause a problem for me with my bosses. Doesn’t he realize Fox 25 pays me to get to the bottom of things and call people out when they’re withholding information?"
Lebbossiere says it's "totally unacceptable" for drivers to run stop signs. "We do take action on those types of things," she says.
According to the MBTA, there were 2,075 accidents involving "T" buses in 2009. Of those, 357 were considered "preventable," which means the driver was to blame.
Any bus driver involved in an accident that was his or her fault is given a written warning.
If a driver has more than two preventable accidents in two years, he or she must take the MBTA's defensive driving course.
Despite more than 300 accidents caused by bus drivers last year, we discovered that those drivers rarely lose their jobs because of bad driving. Only one driver was fired last year for that reason, and only four in the last three years. The MBTA's bus accident policy allows drivers to have five at-fault accidents in a two-year period before the MBTA recommends the driver be fired.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo says the public buses make 4.5 million trips a year and 99 percent of them occur without incident. He also points out that the number of bus accidents caused by bus drivers has dropped every year since 2007.