Ithaca, N.Y. — A TCAT bus hit and killed a pedestrian on Jessup Road Monday morning.

The bus would not have been at that location — just east of the intersection of Jessup Road and the road leading out of A Lot — without a set of route changes that went into effect about two weeks ago.

Prior to Jan. 11, the bus that ran on Route 82 did not stop at A Lot until the afternoon and did not run on Jessup Road at all in the morning.

At the time, A Lot was served in the morning by Route 81. However, the bus on Route 81 took a different direction than Route 82 does now.

The original route is shown in the map below:

After the change, Route 82 in the morning now goes from A Lot, turns left onto Jessup Road and then continues east to Pleasant Grove Road.

This applies for the first four Route 82 trips of the day, which run from 7 to 7:30 a.m. (Police were called to the scene of yesterday’s fatal accident at around 7:25 a.m.)

Here is the new route:

The difference is that whereas the bus previously serving A Lot in the morning turned right onto Jessup Road toward Triphammer Road, the new route takes the bus left, toward Pleasant Grove Road.

There’s no evidence that the new route’s connection to the crash is anything but a coincidence. Both police and New York State officials are investigating the crash. Neither has announced that either the pedestrian or the driver were to blame in the accident.

Patty Poist, spokesperson of TCAT, confirmed the route change. Poist emphasized that TCAT frequently alters its bus routes and that there’s no reason to speculate that the new route made things more dangerous for pedestrians.

The aftermath of the crash. (Photo by Mark H. Anbinder, 14850 Magazine)

“I must emphasize that it would be a far, far stretch to make any correlation between the route changes and the accident,” she said. “It is so very early in the investigation at this point to speculate why this tragic accident happened.”

“We change routes all the time — we have three service periods, Fall, Spring and Summer at which time (occasional) directional changes are made. Our bus operators receive intensive training on making turns.”

An independent local transit official agreed with Poist. It’s too early to say anything about whether the new route contributed to the crash, according to Fernando de Aragon, executive director of the Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council.

“They do change schedules all the time,” de Aragon said of TCAT. “That doesn’t affect the need for the driver to drive correctly and the pedestrians to walk safely.”

“In a tragedy like this, you don’t want to blame anyone before you really know.”

The crash occurred at 7:25 a.m. Route 82 bus does not serve A Lot from 7:40 to 10 a.m.; after 10:10 a.m., it does again go from A Lot left onto Jessup Road.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.