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Quinn asking feds to investigate Megabus

Megabus passengers wait board busses along Canal just south JacksFriday August 3 2012 Chicago. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Megabus passengers wait and board busses along Canal just south of Jackson on Friday, August 3, 2012 in Chicago. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday urged the federal government to begin a detailed investigation into Megabus’ history and procedures in the wake of two fatal crashes within a week.

In a letter addressed to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Quinn requested the department and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration begin an investigation into the bus line to ensure proper procedures and precautions are in place regarding the company’s buses and drivers.

The transportation department is already investigating the two crashes, and the Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a division of the department that works to prevent fatalities and injuries from crashes through enforcement of safety regulations.

“We believe that a full federal investigation into the operations and history of the firm would provide a baseline for any policy changes or other considerations that might logically result from what is learned about these crashes,” Quinn wrote.

The company has been in the spotlight after the deaths of two in separate crashes in Illinois, and a multimillion-dollar legal settlement this week in a fatal 2010 crash.

The latest happened Tuesday when a Megabus struck and killed 76-year-old Donna Halstead as the vehicle turned a corner near Chicago’s Union Station.

Last week, a double-decker Megabus struck an overpass after blowing a tire. The impact, near Downstate Litchfield about 55 miles northeast of St. Louis, killed Aditi R. Avhad, 25, a native of India, and injured at least half those aboard. The woman was a graduate student at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Illinois State Police are investigating that crash. The National Transportation Safety Board has chosen not to open a formal investigation into it, but will monitor it and offer technical assistance if needed.

“We are greatly concerned about these two tragic crashes and want to ensure that steps are taken to try to identify and prevent similar problems as soon as possible,” Quinn said.

Megabus CEO Dale Moser released a statement Thursday in response to the governor’s letter:

“The incidents in Illinois are still under investigation by the authorities and we are unable to speculate on any outcomes until completed. However, we will continue to support the investigations in any way that we can. We will also continue to focus on preventative measures which can safeguard our customers, our staff and other road users.”

On Wednesday, the company reached a $5.1 million settlement with the family of Wes Krueger, a man killed after being hit by a Megabus in February 2010 in Chicago’s West Loop.

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