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Md. Bus Wheels Fall Off ... Again

June 13, 2002

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CATONSVILLE, Md. (AP) _ Two wheels fell off a public transit bus in the 18th such incident in less than a year, frustrating officials who thought they had solved the problem.

No injuries were reported when the bus, carrying 16 passengers, lost both of its right rear wheels Wednesday. One of the 200-pound wheels rolled onto a grassy embankment; the other fell over next to the bus.

After the accident, Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari ordered every Maryland Transit Administration bus reinspected before being allowed back on the streets.

``If there’s any question between having enough buses to make the usual runs tomorrow and safety, we’ll do with less buses,″ Porcari said.

The accident happened despite new, bright green indicator flags designed to show if wheel nuts are coming loose. The bus was also among 400 that have been fitted since May 9 with new equipment.

On Tuesday, Porcari had told state lawmakers that he was confident the problem was being corrected.

In the latest incident, a preliminary investigation found two wheel nuts had not been properly tightened. Mechanics also did not remove a gasket that may have contributed to the problem, Porcari said.

``It is very frustrating, but it only redoubles our determination to make sure we have safe buses out on the street,″ he said.

Wheels have fallen off 18 MTA buses in less than a year. Injury claims have been filed by 44 passengers and 10 drivers. Runaway wheels have struck vehicles and, in one case, a natural gas tank, which ruptured.

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