Wichita City Council to consider settlements in two bus accidents

Two Wichita Transit bus accidents in September will cost the embattled bus system $31,500 if the City Council approves.

The city’s law department is proposing settlements in accidents Sept. 19 and 24 at unspecified locations, according to city documents. Both settlements will come out of the transit department budget, which city officials have propped up through 2014 with the last $1.2 million in a contingency reserve fund.

In the Sept. 19 accident, a woman — also not identified in city documents — alleges she was injured when the vehicle she was riding in was struck by a city bus. The city law department is recommending a $12,000 settlement.

In the Sept. 24 accident, a female passenger on a city bus claims she was injured when the bus stopped suddenly, striking a vehicle stopped in front of it. The law department recommends a $19,500 settlement.

Neither settlement admits liability on the city’s part, according to city documents. Both are recommended because of the possibility the court cases could be lost.

Council members cut city services last year to bridge a $500,000 budget shortfall traced to a $325,000 claim paid out of transit budget funds in 2011 for a 2008 bus accident. Transit is not covered out of the city’s tort pool.

The city is preparing to launch a public discussion this year about the future of the bus system, which needs an infusion of cash to maintain services after the contingency reserve fund is spent next year.