MTA Allegedly Uses Secret Cleanup Crews

Last Friday the MTA lost a case against Manuel Reyes who was allegedly suffered disabling injuries due to an accident on a Queens bus back in 2007. However the verdict of the case is not what is sending shockwaves through the transit world, it is the allegation that the MTA has secret cleanup crews to cover up accident scenes. Susan Edelman of the New York Post has more:

The MTA has mobile crash squads around the city that swoop down on the scenes of bus collisions — and orchestrate cover-ups, a lawyer charges.

“It’s all about damage control,” said attorney Michael Gunzburg, who represents an injured bus rider. No less than 10 MTA investigators descended on the crash site where his client was hurt — several arriving even before ambulances.

An army of MTA supervisors in every borough — at least five in Queens alone — are given cars and assigned to pounce when bus accidents happen, according to court testimony. They do measurements, interview witnesses, take photographs and write reports for risk management and claims.

Queens MTA worker Victor Santiago told a court last week he’s dashed to hundreds of bus accidents — “one or two a day or more” — now mostly “high-profile” crashes.

In his case, Gunzburg argued, the MTA either failed to gather evidence or hid it.

“They come in and try to cover up the accident,” he told a Queens civil court last week. “This is how they handle all accidents.”

The jury agreed. On Friday, it found the MTA and bus driver Dameion Soman 100 percent negligent in the 2007 crash on Parsons Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway service road. It allegedly caused disabling injuries to passenger Manuel Reyes, 43, a former cabby and father of two.

Gunzburg cited the MTA’s missing or faulty evidence. Among the examples:

  • No MTA photos showed where the bus stopped after the crash. Reyes testified it careened across two southbound lanes. But an MTA diagram suggests it stayed in the northbound lanes, and photos show it in different spots. “They moved the bus,” Gunzburg said.
  • MTA investigators took statements from all or most of 14 bus passengers, including five at the hospital, but produced only Reyes’ statement.
  • Santiago testified a colleague downloaded a “black box”-like device, which records the bus’ speed and braking, but that information wasn’t provided.

“There were 10 [MTA responders] there. What happened to all their work product?” Gunzburg said after the verdict.

Click here for the complete report.

This is some extremely troubling information if true. While I have personally heard some stories about this, I could never confirm with 100% certainty. However the testimony during this case seems pretty damning. I find this alleged behavior to be 100% reprehensible & anyone who would partake in such actions should be criminally prosecuted for fraud.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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