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One suit against TriMet tossed, one pending

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman has dismissed a federal lawsuit against TriMet filed by the families of those killed in an April 2010 bus accident in Old Town.

TriMet moved the suit be dismissed against it and former driver Sandi Day’s on the grounds that the fatal collision did not represent a violation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

A state case is still pending in Multnomah County County Circuit Court, however, with trial in August.

After the dismissal, TriMet issued a written statement accepting responsibility for the accident and listing safety changes it prompted. The statement reads as follows:

TriMet has always accepted responsibility for the negligent driving of the bus operator when she struck five people in a crosswalk, killing two women, Danielle Sale and Jenee Hammel. Portland Police issued TriMet bus operator Day six misdemeanor traffic citations for not yielding the right-of-way and for making an illegal left turn from NW Glisan onto Broadway. No criminal charges were brought against Day. Two TriMet internal panels and an independent external review panel all deemed the collision preventable and Day was terminated in August 2010. The Amalgamated Transit Union is challenging Day’s termination and the matter is awaiting arbitration. She was hired as an operator in October 2007.

Following the collision, TriMet took several steps, including:

1. Launching a comprehensive top-to-bottom review of its operations led by a national safety expert and implementing more than 100 recommendations.

2. Evaluating all 79 bus routes, including every turn and lane change, and making changes to a handful of lines to provide more distance between lane changes and/or turns.

3. Launching annual bus operator re-certification training.

4. Hiring a Safety and Security Executive who reports to the General Manager to move the agency toward a culture of safety and migrate the agency to the highest levels of safety performance in all areas of its business.

5. Creating a Safety and Service Excellence Task Force to further the work of the comprehensive safety review. TriMet implemented the 17 Task Force recommendations that also included creating a Safety Education Advisory Committee to help the agency partner with transportation and community stakeholders to improve safety education and outreach.

6. Improved safety features on all new bus purchases.