A Plymouth Metrolink bus, after colliding with a car that allegedly ran a red light, crashed into a minivan owned by the U.S. Postal Service during Wednesday’s morning rush hour in downtown Minneapolis leaving several riders dazed and injured.
Passengers pushed open emergency windows to get off the Route 772 bus that also struck a utility pole before coming to rest on a sidewalk near 12th Street and Harmon Place about 8:24 a.m., said Harlen Zann, a witness who helped five people get off the bus which had its front windows broken out.
“I heard this noise and saw lots of white smoke flying in the air,” he said. “I went to the front of the bus and saw the bus driver lying on the floor on his back. I was screaming but I got no response from the driver. I thought he had a heart attack.”
According to police, the initial collision involved a car hitting the bus. The bus driver then swerved and struck the minivan, which was parked on the side of the street, said Sgt. Catherine Michal of the Minneapolis Police Department.
Passenger Alex Rusinov, who was riding in the back of the bus, said a grey SUV or van ran a red light in front of the bus, which then T-boned the vehicle before striking the postal service minivan.
The drivers of all three vehicles were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center or North Memorial Medical Center. About 8 to 10 passengers on the bus were taken to local hospitals, Michal said.
Rusinov said he was in a seat perpendicular to the length of the bus which prevented him from flying forward. “I just have a bruise on my knee,” he said.
Others were transported to HCMC. Spokeswoman Christine Hill said “several patients are being treated for non-life threatening injuries at HCMC.”
Several ambulances were dispatched to the scene and the area around 12th and Hennepin was blocked off for about 45 minutes.
Plymouth Metrolink is the city’s public bus service and provides 500,000 rides a year. It is operated by the city and has 11 bus routes with local and express service between the west metro suburb and downtown Minneapolis. The city contracts with First Transit for the service.
Luke Fischer, Plymouth’s Administrative Services Director who oversees the city’s bus service, said Metro Transit Police and Plymouth city offficals in concert with First Transit are investigating the incident.
“The passengers are from Plymouth and they are our friends and neighbors,” he said. “Our biggest concern is for the driver and our passengers.”
The crash happened ahead of a meeting Wednesday in which the agency will host a listening session for riders to ask questions and express concerns about Plymouth bus service.