MTA Bus Driver Arrested For Killing a Pedestrian

Fatalities have dropped dramatically since right-of-way law went into effect.

File photo: Wayne Carrington
File photo: Wayne Carrington

An MTA bus driver was arrested after killing an 81-year-old pedestrian on Wednesday night as she crossed Bay Parkway — with the light and in a crosswalk.

Police said B6 driver Audley Smith, 62, turned right from Stillwell Avenue at around 8:07 p.m. and slammed into Yu Qing Chen. When police arrived, they found Chen “unresponsive with head trauma.” She died later at Maimonides Hospital.

Smith was charged with  failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care — both misdemeanors punishable by up to 30 days in jail, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

An MTA source said the bus was out of service at the time.

“This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to Ms. Chen’s family,” New York City Transit President Andy Byford said in a statement.

The numbers of such deaths under the wheels of MTA buses has dropped dramatically since the City Council criminalized failure to yield in 2014 via Council Intro 238, which was opposed bitterly by the transit workers’ union. Before the law passed, police were not even investigating crashes that hurt New Yorkers unless officers personally witnessed the collision or the victim was deemed likely to die, Streetsblog reported.

But it is not always meted out uniformly. The MTA bus driver who killed 7-year-old Shevon Bethea on Webster Avenue in the Bronx earlier this year was not charged.

Earlier this year, the Post reported that MTA buses were involved in more than 21,000 crashes or “other mishaps” since 2015 — an average of 23 per day. Those “mishaps” led to the deaths of 14 people, the newspaper reporter, though not all were pedestrians.

  • William Lawson

    30 days for killing someone in an act of involuntary manslaughter is a shockingly light sentence. But we all know she won’t even spend a day in jail. The arrest was an exercise in public relations. Talks will be going on behind the scenes involving the MTA, the TWU Local 100 and the DA, who will all ultimately agree that she was just doing her job and nobody should be arrested for just doing their job etc.

    MTA drivers not yielding will always be a thing as long as these idiots are shielded from consequence. Stand at the corner of 2nd Ave and Houston st at any time and see how consistently these assholes not only blow the red turn signal onto Houston off 2nd Ave, but how they honk and bully pedestrians who are crossing legally.

  • AMH

    I’ll have to watch buses at that location–in my experience, bus drivers are far more professional than the assholes (professional or amateur) driving cars and trucks.

  • squidonabike

    Why? Why do we have a system where pedestrians and turning vehicles come into conflict in the first place? Why not have a separate all-way pedestrian only phase at every signalized intersection in the city? It would not only save lives, but think of how smoothly traffic would flow if turning cars didn’t have to maneuver through people in the crosswalk? We could even have separate car phases for each direction on 2-way streets to eliminate the nightmare that is trying to make a left turn? (Full disclosure- I own an antique car as a hobby/way to get rid of excess money and I occasionally even drive it. But I wouldn’t use it to commute in NYC for love or money.) Think of the traffic calming, the speed reductions, the plummeting accident rate. Is there any good reason not to reprogram all the traffic lights NOW?

  • qrt145

    Pedestrian-only phases sound nice in theory, but I’ve hated them as a pedestrian where I’ve seen them used in practice, because they make you wait much longer. I guess that’s OK in places where people only walk short distances, but if you are going to be walking 15 blocks and need to wait over a minute to cross each time, it will only increase the contempt New York pedestrians already have for traffic lights.