Officials: SEPTA driver who broke railroad crossing arm made right decision

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Feodor Nikonov doesn't usually catch much on the dashcam video of his car. He's happy to get the occasional view of wildlife.

"Some deer crossing the street," he said.

But on Saturday afternoon, instead of deer, he caught a moment that made him say "oh dear."

His camera caught a SEPTA bus crossing the Regional Rail tracks on Oxford in Fox Chase.

"I was shocked a little bit because buses should be safe," he said.

The bus broke off the crossing arm as it was coming down with flashing red lights on top of the bus. Nikonov says the bus crosses the tracks about 30 seconds before the train came through.

He posted the video to Facebook just as SEPTA got a complaint from another driver who witnessed it.

"We got the complaint probably about 30 or 40 minutes after it happened," said SEPTA's Assistant General Manager of Operations Scott Sauer.

Sauer says the driver was operating an articulating bus which is about 20 feet longer than the standard bus.

Drivers are required to stop at all railroad crossings even if the lights and signals are not flashing. The railroad crossing on Oxford in Fox Chase is at an angle.

"The railroad actually comes in from behind the operator over his left shoulder," said Sauer. "He got a little too far up because he was trying to get that angle to look at the railroad."

That's when the lights started flashing and the arm came down. So SEPTA says the bus driver did what he was supposed to do... keep going.

"Not knowing the proximity of the front of the bus to the nearest rail, because of where he was, he had to make a decision. And the decision is the right decision. You have to get going out of that crossing," said Sauer.

Crews fixed the crossing arm the same day. SEPTA will now speak with the bus driver to talk about the moments leading up to his decision to go through the crossing. Sauer says they'll revisit the procedure with him, if necessary.

In the meantime, they remind riders and drivers that they can call SEPTA's safety line with any concerns. That number is 215-580-7800.
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