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UPDATED: ART Bus Overturns Near Columbia Pike

(Updated at 1:10 p.m. on 5/13/14) Police and firefighters are on the scene of an overturned Arlington Transit bus in South Arlington.

The incident happened around 5:30 p.m. on S. Dinwiddie Street in the area of 7th Road S. Initial reports suggested that a natural gas-powered ART bus struck a tree and overturned.

We’re told that the bus’ “check engine” light came on as it was ascending a steep hill. The bus driver had riders get off the bus, then attempted to continue up the hill. The bus then lost power, began rolling backwards down the hill, and steered in to an embankment before overturning, we’re told.

The bus driver was able to safely exit the bus. No injuries were reported.

Last summer, a natural gas-powered ART bus suffered a “brake malfunction” on a hill near Courthouse and rolled backward into a car.

On Tuesday afternoon, Arlington County issued the following press release about the incident.

Yesterday evening, an Arlington Transit (ART) 35-foot heavy-duty transit bus manufactured by North American Bus Industries (NABI) experienced a problem indicated by the check engine light. After parking the bus and removing the passengers, the bus rolled backward and crashed against a tree on the opposite curb before rolling onto its side and coming to a rest.

There were no injuries, or damage to property other than the bus and a tree.

Safety is our priority. At this time, the cause of the check engine light has not been determined. Arlington County’s ART operations and maintenance contractor, National Express, is conducting a thorough maintenance and safety investigation to determine the cause and possible remedies. The NABI buses receive routine preventative maintenance and inspections every 6,000 miles.

The ART fleet consists of 44 vehicles, including 35 heavy-duty transit buses manufactured by NABI, 14 smaller buses manufactured by the Arboc Corporation, and three electric hybrid buses from DesignLine USA, all powered by compressed natural gas.

ART takes the safety of our riders and others on the road very seriously. The ART Program has one of the safest operating bus systems in an urban environment in the United States. ART operators are focused on safety with each operator undergoing annual refresher training to ensure they are performing at high safety performance levels.

In May 2011, ART received the American Public Transportation Association’s Gold Safety Award for outstanding safety record and reduction of customer safety complaints over the prior two years. In 2012, ART was recognized by the state of Virginia with the Virginia Governor’s Safety Award for a pedestrian safety training program for bus operators.

ART operates within Arlington, Va., supplementing Metrobus with cross-County routes as well as neighborhood connections to Metrorail.

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