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CTA Plans To Boost Bus Driver Training In Wake Of Fatal Crash

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The CTA has announced new guidelines for bus drivers, after a woman was killed when she was hit by a bus on Michigan Avenue last week.

Aimee Coath, 51, was crossing the street at Michigan Avenue and Lake Street on June 2, when a CTA bus ran a red light, and ran her over. She died after she was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Seven other people also were struck by the bus, but they survived.

The driver, 48-year-old Donald Barnes, was a part-time bus driver who had been on the job less than a year, and had undergone five weeks of training. Witnesses said the bus had stopped at a red light, and then blew through it.

It's still unclear why Barnes ran the red light, but the accident has prompted the CTA to take new steps to bolster driver training, and strengthen bus operations.

The agency said, after the fatal accident, it looked at its busy downtown bus routes, which have to contend with heavy traffic congestion, and a large number of pedestrians. The CTA determined, on these technologically challenging routes, its drivers might need more training.

The plan includes providing more route-specific instruction for drivers, increasing ride-along evaluations, a greater number of training days for new drivers, and additional in-the-field instruction.

"There are some routes in the city that are a little bit more challenging than others," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. "Our responsibility is to take a look, not only at the details of a specific incident, but kind of the overall picture, as it relates to our operations.

Though the downtown routes might be technologically challenging, it doesn't mean they're problematic. The CTA said thousands of buses run through downtown each day, and the agency has a high safety record with each of those routes.

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