Firm sus­pended from char­ter work

Bus com­pany’s driver had con­vic­tions, records show

Baltimore Sun - - DEADLY BUS CRASH - By Luke Broad­wa­ter lbroad­wa­ter@balt­sun.com Twit­ter.com/ luke­broad­wa­ter

The West Bal­ti­more com­pany at the cen­ter of the bus crash that killed six peo­ple Tues­day has been sus­pended from pro­vid­ing char­ter bus rides in Mary­land since last year.

The driver of the school bus had con­vic­tions for as­sault, vi­o­lat­ing pro­tec­tive or­ders and ve­hi­cle regis­tra­tion vi­o­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to on­line court records.

AAAf­ford­able Trans­porta­tion LLC owned the school bus that col­lided with an MTA bus in South­west Bal­ti­more. Records show the Public Ser­vice Com­mis­sion sus­pended the com­pany’s for-hire char­ter bus au­thor­ity in Oc­to­ber 2015 af­ter the com­pany failed to re­port rev­enues to the state.

Char­ter bus op­er­a­tors must pay a share of their rev­enue to the state, of­fi­cials said.

“This was an ad­min­is­tra­tive vi­o­la­tion,” said Tori Leonard, spokes­woman for the Public Ser­vice Com­mis­sion. “This was not a safety is­sue.”

Leonard said the com­pany failed to re­port A bus from AAA­ford­able trans­porta­tion was in­volved in Tues­day’s fa­tal crash. about $12,000 in rev­enue from 2014 to the com­mis­sion. It owed the state about $30.

Leonard said AAAf­ford­able re­mains sus­pended from trans­port­ing cus­tomers by char­ter bus in Mary­land be­cause it has not filed the proper forms with the state and has yet to pay a $100 civil penalty.

She said the sus­pen­sion did not af­fect the com­pany’s abil­ity to con­tract with Bal­ti­more City Public Schools to trans­port stu­dents.

“The sus­pen­sion was only for char­ter ser­vices,” she said.

Fifty-one com­pa­nies in Mary­land have their for-hire char­ter bus au­thor­ity sus­pended.

AAAf­ford­able had a clean fed­eral safety record the past two years, but one of its buses was in­volved in a crash four years ago that in­jured at least 13 peo­ple.

The crash Tues­day morn­ing in the 3800 block of Fred­er­ick Av­enue killed six peo­ple, in­clud­ing both driv­ers, and in­jured 10 oth­ers.

AAAf­ford­able is one of seven bus com­pa­nies con­tracted by Bal­ti­more schools to trans­port stu­dents. The school sys­tem has con­tracted with AAA­ford­able since 2010, school of­fi­cials said.

Glenn Chap­pell, 67, was on his way to pick up the first of about18 stu­dents be­fore 7 a.m. when he rear-ended a Ford Mus­tang and struck a con­crete pil­lar, po­lice said.

The school bus then con­tin­ued an­other block and smashed through the driver’s side front of the MTA bus, po­lice said.

There were no stu­dents on the school bus. Po­lice found no in­di­ca­tion that the brakes on the school bus were ap­plied be­fore the col­li­sion.

Bus driv­ers con­tracted by city schools must meet health stan­dards. Chap­pell passed an an­nual phys­i­cal in June, school of­fi­cials said.

Judges in Howard County and Bal­ti­more is­sued pro­tec­tive or­ders against Chap­pell in do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence cases in 2011 and 2012, ac­cord­ing to on­line court records.

He was found guilty of vi­o­lat­ing pro­tec­tive or­ders three times be­tween 2012 and 2013. He pleaded guilty to sec­ond-de­gree as­sault in De­cem­ber 2012 and was sen­tenced to a year of pro­ba­tion.

He pleaded guilty in 2014 to fail­ing to show a regis­tra­tion card on de­mand and in 2015 to driv­ing a ve­hi­cle with a sus­pended regis­tra­tion.

In 2008, Chap­pell was sued in a mo­tor tort case, which typ­i­cally in­volve car ac­ci­dents. The case was set­tled in 2010, on­line records in­di­cate.

Fur­ther de­tails of the cases were not avail­able late Wed­nes­day.

AAA­ford­able owner Mark Wil­liams said Tues­day that the driver had a good record. He de­clined to an­swer fur­ther ques­tions, say­ing the com­pany and its driv­ers were griev­ing. Wil­liams could not be reached for com­ment Wed­nes­day.

TIM PRU­DENTE/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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