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VALLEY NEWS

Leaky Bus May Be to Blame in Mystery of Slippery Freeways

November 17, 2000|ROBERTO J. MANZANO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The California Highway Patrol said Thursday that it may have solved the mystery of the slippery freeways. The culprit? An MTA bus leaking oil.

At least 15 times over the past 10 days, transition roads linking the Ronald Reagan Freeway with the Golden State and San Diego freeways had been covered with a slippery substance, according to CHP Officer Wendy Moore.

The substance was blamed in a minor injury accident Nov. 7, she said.

CHP cruisers staked out the area early Thursday and pulled the bus over about 4:30 a.m. as it went from the 118 to the 405, Moore said.

The tires of the CHP officer's car following the bus became coated with oil, Moore said, and "there was enough oil to coat the surface of the roadway."

The 40-foot passenger bus is owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and has an MTA logo, but is maintained and operated by Coach USA. It carries passengers from Ventura Boulevard in Studio City to the Metrolink train station in Chatsworth.

The bus was beginning its run Thursday morning and had no passengers aboard.

The bus was repaired Thursday and should be back in service today, said Greg Bush, project manager for the MTA contract at Coach USA.

As part of a 5-month-old MTA contract, Coach USA operates and maintains 28 MTA buses that follow three routes, Bush said. Their drivers work for Coach USA.

Moore said officials believe that the bus was causing the spills, but Bush said he didn't know if that was the case.

"We will definitely not let a bus roll out of here if it's leaking," he said. "If it starts leaking on the freeway, we'll pull it out of service."

Coach USA was not cited, Moore said.

MTA spokesman Marc Littman said it's the contracting company's responsibility to maintain the buses.

"Having oil leaking out of the bus is a violation of maintenance standards and the contract," he said.

The MTA will wait for the highway patrol to complete its findings before launching its own investigation, he said.

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