A Maryland Transit Administration bus today crashed into a Southwest Baltimore pawn shop about an hour before city and state officials celebrated the rollout of the agency’s revamped new bus system at a press conference in West Baltimore.
The crash, first reported by WJZ, involved multiple vehicles and an MTA bus that ran into a pawn shop on Garrison Avenue. A station chopper overhead showed the bus and an SUV blocking opposite sidewalks, and a green city-owned tractor trailer pushed up against a sedan in the middle of the road.
The accident occurred around 2 p.m. at the intersection of Clifton Avenue and Garrison Avenue, MTA spokesman Paul Shepard told Baltimore Fishbowl.
The crash happened after a problem with the #13 bus’ emergency brake. Shepard said the bus drifted backward and hit two parked vehicles before crashing into the store. The driver, the only person on the bus at the time, sustained non-life threatening injuries, he said.
MTA Police are investigating the crash.
The incident was the latest in a series involving the bus system that’s set to be re-introduced as BaltimoreLink on Sunday, June 18. Last week, MTA Director Paul Comfort abruptly left the agency in a move that preceded the release of documents showing his staff broke the rules by authorizing more than $65,000 in expenses on new furniture for his offices without asking for competing bids.
Days before, a robbery suspect in Dundalk engaged police in a shootout from an MTA bus. He wounded an officer and a bystander before he was killed.
Shepard declined to comment on the timing of the incidents leading up to the launch of BaltimoreLink.
Gov. Larry Hogan, Mayor Catherine Pugh, Acting MTA Administrator Kevin Quinn and other state officials held a press conference at the West Baltimore MARC station to announce the launch of BaltimoreLink on Sunday. Their event started at 3 p.m., about an hour after the crash.
Shepard said “it would be impossible to know” if they were aware of the accident at the time.
Gov. Larry Hogan has championed the $135 million bus system overhaul, called BaltimoreLink, as a way to better connect all sides of the city. The system will include 12 color-coded routes designed to connect to light rail, subway and MARC train stops, as well as new time-based technology that is supposed to hold green lights for approaching buses.
“We stood here 19 months ago and promised that we would fix Baltimore’s broken transit system, and we have done exactly what we said we would do,” the governor said in a statement today. “BaltimoreLink signifies the state’s long-term commitment to the future of this city.”
The state is offering two weeks of free light rail, subway and bus rides following BaltimoreLink’s launch on Sunday.