BY JENNA SKOLLER
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 3, 2008
A 51-year-old MegaBus driver en route to Ann Arbor was arrested Monday in southwest Michigan after failing a series of sobriety tests.
Michigan State Police pulled over driver Kenneth Lewis of Coach USA’s MegaBus line on eastbound I-94 just outside Benton Township after seeing the bus swerving and speeding, police said.
They arrested Lewis after he failed sobriety tests administered at the scene. He is being held at Berrien County Jail awaiting arraignment, police said.
State troopers then escorted the bus to a truck stop, contacted MegaBus, and instructed the company to bring another driver to transport the bus and its 30 passengers to their destinations in Ann Arbor and Detroit.
The bus was a shuttle traveling from Minneapolis to Detroit with a stop in Chicago. The MegaBus line offers heavily-discounted rates, making the line popular with University students.
LSA sophomore Elise Wanger, returning to school from home, was on another MegaBus making the trip from Chicago alongside Lewis’s bus.
Wanger said her bus had to turn around about one hour outside Ann Arbor so the driver of her bus could act as a representative of MegaBus and speak with the police. Wanger said the bus's passengers waited at a rest stop for about two hours until a new driver arrived to transport the extra passengers.
The bus arrived in Ann Arbor around 5:15 p.m., three hours after its scheduled arrival time.
The legal blood alcohol limit for someone operating a commercial vehicle like a bus is significantly lower than the standard alcohol limit — .0015, compared with .08. Lewis tested between .06 and .07, said Sgt. Ken High of the Michigan State Police Department, placing him well above the legal limit.
Dale Moser, chief operating officer of Megabus.com, said Coach USA has a zero-tolerance policy regarding alcohol consumption.
“This is unacceptable behavior,” Moser said. “We do not accept our drivers consuming any type of drugs or alcohol, and we will do all we can to prevent it from happening in the future. The safety of our passengers has always been and will always be our top priority.”
Lewis has been suspended from his position at MegaBus, but the company won't decide whether to keep him until after an internal investigation.
Moser said this is the first drunk driving incident in Coach USA’s 35-year history.
“I am hoping this one incident does not surface as a reflection of the company,” Moser said. “We will take a hard focus on ensuring this does not happen again and will implement procedures to mitigate future incidents.”
Wanger said the incident gave her a negative impression of the bus line, which she had used in the past.
“It was my third time taking MegaBus, and probably my last,” Wanger said.