First of all, I mean no disrespect to the Ocean City Bus Line, or anyone affiliated with it. If the contents of this letter sound like I’m being critical of the Ocean City Bus Line, that is certainly not my intent. However, I offer no apologies for this letter or my personal feeling expressed in it.
Having worked in the public service and safety field, I was taught, “In America, where the supremacy of public opinion is assured, it is essential that the system upon public safety depends is developed to a high degree of efficiency and that it (is) administered in a manner to assure the continued approbation and respect of the public.” From Aug. 1, 2012 to the writing of this letter on Aug. 27, 2013 I feel the Ocean City Bus Line did not and has not adhered to this standard when it comes to the ordeal I experienced on one of its buses.
On Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 at approximately 6 a.m., I boarded an Ocean City Park and Ride bus at the inlet station, my destination being the Park and Ride station on Route 50. Upon boarding the bus, I noticed a strong odor— it smelled like something was burning. Mr. Bill Madden, the Ocean City Bus Driver radioed this information in. A voice came across the radio: Make the run and the bus would be checked out later. So Mr. Bill departed the inlet station with me being the only passenger. After going about two or three blocks after leaving the Inlet Station until we reached the foot of the Route 50 bridge, the smell became increasingly worse. Mr. Bill radioed this information in at least three or four times. Each time the reply message over the radio was the same: Try and complete the run.
As we were going up a little slope while crossing the Route 50 bridge, the bus began to hesitate, as if it was trying to cut out. All the time, the smell was getting stronger. Mr. Bill then radioed this new information in. We continued on, turning right off Route 50 into the White Marlin Mall. The hesitation in the bus motor worsened. It was at this time Mr. Bill radioed in again, this time requesting another bus be sent down to him.
We proceeded through the mall, turning right onto golf course road. After we had gone about a hundred yards, all of sudden there was a loud boom. The bus then shut completely down, losing all power, and started filling up with smoke from the rear forward. Mr. Bill and I then scrambled off the bus, with him grabbing some orange triangle shaped markers. As he and I were placing these markers around the bus, there came another loud boom. This time black smoke started coming out the bus and from underneath it. We then moved far away from the bus, ending up in the bank parking lot. As we were standing there, there were two more loud booms, and the entire bus was engulfed in flames.
After a short period of time, Ocean City Police Officers, Maryland State Troopers, the fire department and what I think were Ocean City Bus Line officials began arriving on the scene.
After being spoken to by someone from the fire department, confirming I was not in need of medical attention, I was interviewed by an Ocean City Police Officer. It was during this interview I saw another Ocean City bus drive up. I then saw Mr. Bill talking to a couple of gentleman, who I assumed were Ocean City Bus Line officials. I then saw Mr. Bill board that bus and drive it away. After the interview and having my credentials handed back to m,e I was told by the interviewing Ocean City police I was free to go.
After standing in the pouring rain for approximately 10 to 20 minutes more, I was never shown the courtesy of be approached or even spoken to by anyone on the scene from the Ocean City Bus Line. So feeling as though I was being completely ignored, I walked across the street to the Park and Ride station to seek shelter and await the next shore transit bus to Salisbury. It was while I was waiting for the Shore Transit bus’s departure I saw Mr. Bill come thru the Park and Ride driving another bus. After seeing me, he got off the bus and came up to me. After assuring each other that we were alright, we shook hands and instant friendship was formed. I then boarded the Shore Transit bus to Salisbury. Before I continue, I know that I thanked you all numerous times that morning. I want to take this opportunity to thank the bus driver and the passengers on that Shore Transit bus that morning. After seeing me soaking wet, not one of you complained while I requested the air conditioning be shut off. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the concern and compassion you all showed me.
Now here is why I’m still deeply disturbed over this incident: A couple of days later, a lady passenger on the Shore Transit bus showed me pictures and gave me some information on the same make and model bus I had my experience on.
It seems, earlier in the year, a couple of buses of this make and model showed or had the same warning signs as this Ocean City bus, with them having basically the same results. Fortunately, the drivers were the only ones on the bus, and they, too, escaped injury. However, it is my understanding the buses of this make and model were pulled out of service pending factory approval. Even though I lost a briefcase and the valuables inside of it in that fire, I don’t care. I’ve never asked the Ocean City Bus Line for the replacement of these things or anything else. They were just material things. Anything and everything that could be replaced, I have since replaced. I was thankful Mr. Bill and I were not injured or worse.
Now here is the question that has remained in the back of my mind for over a year: If this women could go to her computer and find out this information, about this make and model bus, it is possible that someone in this Ocean City Public Service Organization knew of the problems and /or the warning signs of this make and model bus? If so, that’s OK, stuff happens. But to have ordered Mr. Bill to continue on that run, putting his and my life in danger, is very appalling to me. Why wasn’t the bus ordered to shut down, especially with all the radio transmissions that were constantly being transmitted?
It has been over a year now. I have yet to hear from the Ocean City Bus Line. All I want to know is why I was ignored and left standing in the pouring rain, especially when all I did was try and aid your driver in every way possible.
As a 62-year-old man at the time, now 63, I felt and still feel some kind of compassion and respect could have and should have been shown towards me. Not to have been spoken to that day or a year later is amazing to me. A simple “Are you OK?” would have been something, even if it wasn’t sincere.
I guess the old saying “I can forgive, but I can’t forget” is how I feel about handling this situation. So, it is will all the sincerity, I can say, “Have a nice day, and may God bless you all.”
Editor’s note: Ocean City’s Department of Public Works was previously unaware of the issues raised, but is now looking into the matter. “I received the same letter and have spoken to Mr. Ryder,” Transportation Superintendent George Thornes said in an email. “It disturbs me that he was not interviewed immediately following the fire…since reading his letter I now have more questions regarding the incident.”