Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto Shuttle suit settles for $125,000

Original post made on Aug 12, 2010

A Henry M. Gunn High School student who was thrown out of an unsecured city-bus door and tumbled onto El Camino Real in 2007 has settled a lawsuit for $125,000, according to court documents.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 12, 2010, 9:45 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by glad
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 12, 2010 at 10:41 am

I'm glad that the victim has recovered from his injuries. $125K sounds very cheap for that amount of medical care. I hope that the family did not have huge out-of-pocket expenses for his treatment.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2010 at 11:14 am

This accident should never have happened. It does sound that there was a problem in that the door was not properly secured.

However, why was he standing anyway? The article says he was one of 10 people on a 22 seater bus. Why wasn't he seated in one of the seats?

I know these shuttles get overcrowded with students, and that is a different discussion. But, it seems to me that these students have never been taught how to behave on a bus. They should know that a door is not a good place to stand by or even lean on. A seat (with seat belts) makes a lot more sense. If they have to stand, then there should be straps from bars on the ceiling or handles on the edge of seats so that those standing can hold on.

I sympathise with the student and his family and hope that his recovery is complete. I also hope that this can be a lesson to everyone who uses a bus to know that it makes sense to hold on to something when standing on a bus if there is nowhere to sit, and that sitting is much safer than standing.

Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 12, 2010 at 11:18 am

Geez Resident, maybe you have some brain damage.

The article says that the bus was FULL/CROWDED and 10 extra people aboard were forced to STAND. Not that there were 10 people aboard.


Posted by glad
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

I agree with qq. Very disrespectful of "Resident" to blame the victim.

Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 12, 2010 at 11:27 am

It would be nice to know if the City is acting to recover damages from the Parking Company of America as well as the manufacturer of the bus. re "Palo Alto Police Department spokesman said the shuttle's doors "were not built to (stay) secure with the force of a person's weight against it." These are important details and integral to the story.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2010 at 11:30 am


I apologise and have reread the article. It does say that the bus was overcrowded in the first paragraph or so. It also states much later that he was standing in the aisle with 9 other passengers.

It also states that the door was not strong enough to hold a passenger's weight. That also sounds like trouble.

However, my original query still stands. Why are there no seatbelts and nowhere to hold for passengers? I was in Europe a few months ago on many buses - large and small. The buses all had seatbelts and the passengers all knew how to hold on if they had to stand.

One of the problems must be safety standards.

Posted by John
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 12, 2010 at 11:38 am

The shuttles are crammed full during the afternoon trips around town. The drivers, some of whom are language deficient, do not honor the occupancy signs, and let these kids cram onto the bus.

It's hard to believe that the City didn't know about this, but certainly the PAUSD did. Unfortunately, the PAUSD is not directly involved in the operation of these buses. Sadly, the District seems to be disinterested in any safety issues associated with students off campus.

While this matter may well have been associated with the door-interlock not working, if the drivers had said: "We're full, wait for the next bus" .. then this would not likely have happened.

This bus services provider does not seem to be very responsible, at least as represented by its drivers.

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 12, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I still think Caltrain/parking company/Police department/City of Palo Alto got away by paying peanuts ($125,000 some amount). The following statements are for the readers:

WHEN EVER SOMEONE IS INJURED ON PUBLIC PROPERTY AND HAD HEAD INJURY DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT SETTLE FOR LESS THAN 1 (ONE) MILLION DOLLARS. PARTICULARLY WHEN THE ACCIDENT VICTIM HAS "with a significant concussion, cuts to his head and internal bleeding in his skull, according to court papers. He remained hospitalized for four days."

This type of problem can cause long term damage to memory, learning or internal bleeding and just to transport the patient to hospital again (airlift) itself costs anywhere from $10,000 yes ten thousand USDs $$$$.

What a raw deal the victim got. City collects so much in taxes, Caltrain charges $4.50 for train fare within a zone or something like that and look what a petty settlement they agreed for!

Posted by lol
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 12, 2010 at 6:50 pm

>and $3,000 for other expenses.

That must be the PSP.

Posted by sageru~
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Hah, 10 people my ass.

If you can seat 22 people on the bus, you can definitely shove in another 33 people and make them stand. I've definitely stood in the stairwell a couple times before.

Posted by Rider.
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 12, 2010 at 7:02 pm

No way there was 33 people. Usually its closer to 60.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2010 at 8:16 am

Has anything been done since this accident to improve safety on the shuttles?

I do think people should be more vigilant about their own safety, but at the same time we are talking about shuttles which are full of kids before and after school. Is there anyway these shuttles can improve frequency at school times to prevent the overcrowding. With our schools slated to increase in numbers over the next few years, it is paramount that more transport to school be invoked. These 22 seater buses cannot deal with increase in number of school kids trying to squeeze onto them. They are not sardines.

If something isn't done to make these shuttles safer, it seems to me that there will be more accidents. If PAUSD and the City of Palo Alto isn't doing anything to improve safety then why aren't the traveling public? Palo Alto Weekly, you can do more to help us in this, please.

Posted by anon
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I've been riding the shuttle for the past few years to and from school. There is no way the doors would stay closed if somebody fell against them. They flop around as though they're about to fall open when the shuttle is just driving normally.

Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Before publishing this story, I contacted Caltrain and the Parking Company of America regarding any improvements to the buses or to new procedures to remedy this problem.

Caltrain referred comment to Parking Company of America. To date, the Weekly hasn't received a response from the company. We will continue to follow the issue and seek answers.

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Why are people being so rude to each other here? I mean, yeah, you may be factually right, but the rude and abusive posts are wrong in just about every other way. And by the way, haven't you ever made a mistake that deserved correction? Was resident's mistake correctly answered by such rudeness? I would call his mistake minor compared to the responses he got.

Posted by Shuttle Diplomacy
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm

The before and after-school shuttles are always overcrowded -- there is not enough capacity on the buses to accommodate all the students who want a ride (I know only about the high schoolers). Imagine being the driver of a 22-seat bus with hundreds of kids getting out of school at the same time -- that's not a language problem, it's a numbers problem. Maybe the little bus was enough when the shuttles just started, but it's time to take a look at the ridership. Of course students have other modes of transport, but the shuttle makes sense for many. The high schoolers are facing hours of homework after school and getting home shouldn't be such an ordeal for them or their parents.

So I say thank you and kudos to all the responsible agencies for providing such a great service; its crushing popularity is evidence of its success. It would be wonderful for the kids (and their parents) if the capacity can be increased during peak times or else (to paraphrase Yogi Berra) it'll be so crowded, no one will go there anymore.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Holiday Fun in San Francisco- Take the Walking Tour for An Evening of Sparkle!
By Laura Stec | 8 comments | 3,117 views

Boichik Bagels is opening its newest – and largest – location in Santa Clara this week
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,182 views

I Do I Don't: How to build a better marriage Ch. 1, page 1
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,346 views


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 30 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away almost $10 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.