An ugly crash after one SEPTA bus rammed into the back of another Friday afternoon on Roosevelt Boulevard left one woman dead, a driver in critical condition, and more than a dozen other people injured, according to authorities.
The collision happened around 12:10 p.m. at Shelmire Avenue in Rhawnhurst, just north of Cottman, when a Route 14 bus hit the back of a Route 1 bus, SEPTA told news outlets.
Its windshield shattered, and passengers were tossed out of their seats, per reports from the scene. At least 14 people were taken to hospitals. The 38-year-old driver of the rear bus is reportedly in critical condition, and 72-year-old Siu Nam Mak, of Castor, is reported to have died from her injuries.
Philly police are investigating, and both buses are now out of service for repairs, according to SEPTA.
The transit agency does not yet have an official explanation as to what led to the crash, spokesperson Andrew Busch told The Inquirer, but will be reviewing videos and interviewing those involved.
“SEPTA’s thoughts are with the loved ones of the passenger who died, as well as with our employees and customers who were injured in this tragic accident,” the authority said in a statement.
Here’s what else we know about the traffic calamity so far.
How fast was the rear bus going?
It’s unclear exactly how fast the driver of the rear bus was going when it hit the second bus, but video of the crash has surfaced, according to FOX29, which says reporters obtained the footage from a nearby surveillance camera.
The clip shows the moment of impact (around 35 seconds in). You can see the Route 1 bus come to a stop, and shortly thereafter watch as the Route 14 bus plows into the back of it, jolting it forward several feet.
Photos and videos of the crash site show devastation to the front of the Route 1 bus, with the windshield almost entirely smashed to bits, and the front door chassis mangled and twisted. Pieces of the bus lie scattered on the pavement.
Did someone miss their stop?
A person who said they were a passenger on one of the buses told local TV news they thought the crash might’ve happened after a different passenger indicated they needed to get off.
“Somebody yelled, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa,’” Robert West Jr. told CBS3, “like they’d missed their stop or something.”
Other witnesses at the scene told FOX29 that the front vehicle, an articulated Route 1 bus, had passed its designated stop at Shelmire Avenue, but then pulled up at the following corner to let off a passenger — and that’s when the Route 14 bus slammed into it.
The two bus routes follow the same path?
With no subway service (yet) along Roosevelt Boulevard, buses are plentiful along the arterial roadway that runs through Northeast Philly — and the service is often duplicative.
The Route 1 bus follows a long path that goes from the western border of Philadelphia to the northeastern edge. It starts at City Line Avenue, and travels the Route 1 highway across the city, continuing to follow the road as it becomes the Boulevard, finishing at the Parx Casino in Bensalem.
The Route 14 bus, meanwhile, travels a much shorter path that concentrates on Roosevelt Boulevard, running from the MFL terminal at the Frankford Transportation Center up to the Oxford Valley Mall and Neshaminy Mall.
SEPTA’s Bus Revolution, the plan to overhaul bus service in the city and make it more efficient and attractive, suggests Route 1 could be discontinued and the resources reinvested into the routes it duplicates.