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On a dry and clear afternoon in July, an airport shuttle bus was headed north on International Avenue. A passenger car driver in the southbound lanes swerved over the median, and hit the side of the bus.

One of the shuttle bus passengers was killed. Seven other people were injured.

The fatal bus crash is still under investigation by  the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The Board will fully investigate the circumstances of the crash, and make ecommendations are made to improve safety and reduce risk.

It’s not unusual for the NTSB to investigate a fatal bus crash, but in this case, it’s not immediately clear why. There doesn’t seem to be any dispute about the cause of the bus crash.

It may be that there is a safety issue with the speed limit (40 mph) on that section of road, or the median, or other infrastructure. Or, there may be a clue in the preliminary NTSB report, which states:

The shuttle bus was equipped with lap belts in all 14 passenger seat positions,

but none of the passengers were wearing them.

A Washington State Patrol representative said people on this type of hotel shuttle bus are not required to wear seat belts.

Many of the hotels, including the Seattle Airport Marriott, that run a shuttle service are within a mile or two of the airport. One reporter noted the distance between the hotel and airport to be only 1/4 mile.

GoogleMap of shuttle bus crash location

The shuttle bus crash occurred on International Blvd at S. 176 Street, very near the SeaTac parking garage.

NTSB investigations are solely focused on improving transportation safety. In fact, the NTSB analysis and determination of probable causes of the bus crash can’t even be used as evidence in court. See: What does the NTSB do?  

But the report may tell us something about shuttle bus safety.

When the NTSB report is finalized, we will update this post with the results of their investigation.

 


Why it’s not a “bus accident”

Some local news outlets and others who discussed the SeaTac shuttle bus crash called it an “accident.”

Most crashes are not accidents at all. They are the predictable – and preventable – result of bad decisions, bad driving, or bad roads.

We don’t yet know what caused the SeaTac bus crash. We don’t know if an accident, but we do know it was a crash.

Say crash, not accident.