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Transit bus sidelined after Thursday crash - service running with spare

A Brainerd & Crow Wing Public Transit bus involved in a crash Thursday will be evaluated by an insurance adjuster this week. The bus had to be towed from the scene of the crash Thursday, city of Brainerd transit coordinator Andy Stone said. T...

A Brainerd & Crow Wing Public Transit bus involved in a crash Thursday will be evaluated by an insurance adjuster this week.

The bus had to be towed from the scene of the crash Thursday, city of Brainerd transit coordinator Andy Stone said. The transit service is on a 10-year replacement cycle for its buses, he said, so the 2009 Ford bus involved in the crash still had a few more years on the road before it would be replaced.

"If it is in fact beyond repair, then I don't know what will happen," Stone said.

It's too early to say how long the transit service will be one bus short, Stone said. The service has 10 buses, nine of which run daily, he said, with the remaining bus serving as a spare. That spare bus is now out running daily until the tenth bus is replaced or repaired.

Hopefully, riders won't notice much of a service impact, Stone said. His job is to field calls for rides, schedule trips and ensure Reichert Bus Service fulfills its contract agreement, he said.

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"My hope and my short-term plan is the spare keeps running," Stone said.

The most recent bus purchased in 2016 cost $80,000, Stone said. Hopefully insurance will cover some of the replacement costs, he said, as Brainerd and Crow Wing County have a definite need for public transit.

The crash occurred at 11:03 a.m. Thursday at the intersection of Highway 371 and College Road, the Minnesota State Patrol reported. The bus was traveling eastbound when the driver, Thomas David Keep, 59, Brainerd, stopped at a red light and then proceeded into the intersection.

A semitrailer, driven by Gary James Hines, 66, Baxter, was traveling northbound on Highway 371 and was traveling through the intersection on a green light when it broadsided the bus.

One passenger on the bus was transported to Essentia Health - St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd where she was treated for injuries and released. There were three occupants, including the driver, on the 12-passenger bus. Keep was cited for failure to obey a traffic device.

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