Freight Train Hits MARTA Bus at McDonough Crossing in Decatur This Morning


UPDATE: From CSD’s Facebook page…

Buses may not be on schedule this morning due to a train accident on McDonough Street near the high school. Traffic will be challenging. Tardies will be excused this morning. The reported accident involved a MARTA bus and the train. No injuries were reported.


11Alive reports this morning that a MARTA bus has hit by a freight train at the McDonough crossing in Decatur this morning.  According to the report, witnesses say the bus got stuck on the tracks prior to being hit.  The report on television says that no one was hurt.  But obviously expect delays around that area with morning.

More details as we have them (and there goes the helicopter over the house).

Photo courtesy of Lee

59 thoughts on “Freight Train Hits MARTA Bus at McDonough Crossing in Decatur This Morning”

  1. Can anyone report for others the best spot for walking students to cross the tracks this morning, going to school? Agnes Scott underpass? Thanks!

    1. Commerce underpass, Agnes Scott tunnel and Atlantic Ave are clear. I expect traffic is worse on those roads so be careful out there.

    2. You’ll find a secured cross walk for the Agnes Scott students right before the McDonough intersection…so that’s the best way to go.

  2. there is an underpass across the street from Agnes Scott on college that will be your best bet from Oakhurst I think

  3. Heard this on 90.1 coming in to work. Very glad no-one was hurt !

    Trucks and buses seem to get stuck there often due to the convex (mound) shape of the crossing. It’s also a very busy crossing with a complicated light and too many turn directions on either side of the track, which contributes to the risk.

    *Now* will something be done about that crossing, or do a certain number of people have to be killed first ?

    1. So true….this crossing point is a HUGE problem. City has tried to address for years. CSX needs to work with City to rework the area.

      1. How is it a huge problem exactly? yes, the intersection is a little confusing, but geez.

        Yes I will be eating my words when it is my family or friends that gets injured there, but the hyperbolic reactions to these kind of incidents just gets under my skin

    2. I doubt anything will happen. Railroad is King still, even though it’s 2013 not 1913. But one can hope.

    3. “Trucks and buses seem to get stuck there often”
      Really? I can’t recall any recent incidents. Perhaps you can help my memory.

      1. I can recall one other bus and one large flatbed carrying construction equipment in the past few years. And they didnt get hit. Considering the number of trains running through here per year, the incidents are minimal.

        1. Those both were at the Candler St crossing.
          The truck should not have been there because it’s a known low clearance crossing.
          All buses were re-routed to cross at McDonough St after the bus incident.
          Two incidents don’t qualify as “often” IMO.

          1. Uhhh, i was agreeing with your original comment. Right? I wasn’t keeping my response limited to McDonough on purpose.

          2. Steve, are you saying that no MARTA buses cross the RR at South Candler/E. Trinity/College/Howard? Because I see them there all the time. CLIFF shuttles, too.

            1. Cliff shuttles are not MARTA buses. They are operated by a contractor for Emory, not MARTA. You shouldn’t be seeing any big MARTA buses there.

              1. But I do see MARTA buses there. I see them all the time. Specifically, the #15 from South Dekalb to the Decatur station, which goes right up S. Candler to E. Trinity, then to Commerce, then to Swanton Way to the bus turnaround.

              2. My apologies. MARTA buses do in fact use Candler St when traveling into town. All southbound buses use McDonough St. though.

      2. I think a truck carrying granite slabs was hit by a train after it got stuck in the same spot a few years ago. I don’t think anybody was hurt in that one either.

      3. I don’t know about trucks and buses but I do remember a car with an senior driver and a young person getting hit a year or two ago. The passengers got out and none were hurt.

        1. You are correct. The car stopped on the tracks and the gates came down. Notrackmom had a few things to say about that above.

          1. Yeah, I made sure my kids heard that story hoping that it would have a lifelong impact on their future driving habits. Whenever I have to cross tracks, I have this mental image of my mom’s story of the doctor in her rural hometown who was in a station wagon with his 4 kids and wife and didn’t see or hear the train coming at night….. My family thinks it’s a little much that I stop at all tracks, look both ways and roll down the window to listen, but I figure, if buses have to do it, there must be a reason.

            1. I think it’s a law that busses HAVE to do that. At least it was the law in PA. But good for you for being safe. I will NEVER stop and sit on railroad tracks. I don’t care if it is unnecessary worrying.

              1. It’s the law in Georgia also.
                Interesting sidenote – Georgia law requires that the routes for prisoners being transported avoid at-grade crossing to the maximum extent possible. That’s why the buses transporting from the jail to the courthouse use the Commerce Dr underpass.

                1. I’ve always wondered why I would see the transport bus & Sheriff escorts speeding down Howard and through the pedestrian crosswalk on Trinity while I was crossing.

                  And I’ve always wondered if the Decatur Police would have the balls to actually ticket them for either infraction.

    1. I know those horns are loud for folks who bought homes near the tracks, but SaferCrossing is not Safer. It is just an effort to stop the noise pollution (and I admit it is loud and bad for those who live near a crossing) caused by horns. Unfortunately, those horns are critical for safety. The extra gates are good, but even they are not foolproof. The loss of routine use of horns poses a direct threat to the safety of our children. We have neighborhoods and schools abutting the tracks. With children and adults spending huge amounts of time with earbuds in and music up, we need horns. Just last May a train ran down a kid in St. Louis. An article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last December noted that “Based on the miles driven each year, pedestrians are killed by freight and passenger trains at many times the rate they are killed by motor vehicles.” (article at: ) Finally, under the regulations covering implementation of “quiet zones,” the railroad has the right to require our city to assume liability for injuries that may occur at these crossings, completely removing the little shred of incentive we have for the railroads to operate their trains safely. I would rather see us spend the money to add more tunnels under the railroad (such as the one at Agnes Scott) or a pedestrian overpass between Renfroe and Howard, which will cost a bundle and require hard negotiations with the railroad, but they will enhance safety where we need it.

  4. And maybe this will help all those angry drivers who lay on their horns when I won’t pull onto the tracks to wait for the light realize it is an active railroad crossing. Seems they think it won’t happen to them. I will continue to wait behind the tracks at a red light. Honk away people. Glad no one was hurt.

  5. Just in case no one heard. Tardies accepted at DHS and RMS, school buses may be delayed. Probably FAVE too. Drop kids off a few blocks from school. Avoid Howard.

    Kids here hoping for no school. Slackards, it’s the last week of school already. In my day, we had to walk miles and miles through deep snow across countless blocked RR intersections….

  6. What do they mean when they say the bus got “stuck?” Was it physically stuck or simply stuck because it pulled onto the tracks behind another stopped vehicle and they just couldn’t pull forward?

    1. Rampant speculation, but I’d guess it pulled onto the hill at an angle and bottomed out. I can’t count the # of times I’ve been stuck behind busses gingerly cresting that hill.

  7. It’s 10:00 and the train is still there. I needed to get to East Decatur Station from the Adair St. area so I went through town to go under the tracks on Commerce then left onto College. The intersection of Commerce & College has traffic backed up in every direction.

  8. This is a threadjack but it’s a long time until Friday–Patch is reporting that Dr. Van Soelen, CSD Asst. Superintendent, is applying for a district superintendent position in Iowa, where he’s from.

  9. CSD is forwarding a message from the police department that the road intersections at the crossing will be closed for about the next 24 hours while they repair the track. Even after that, it will take a few days to replace a crossing arm pole that was knocked down. While that’s being replaced, trains will have to stop and put out a flare and then proceed through the intersection until the signal and guard arms are working again.

    1. The trains are long enough that when one stops, it’ll probably block every grade crossing in town. This would be a great time for the City to come up with some of those Burma-Shave sign sets to warn people (and possibly help everybody lighten up about the delays).

      1. Huh? I might be delayed 20 minutes or more getting to Trackside and you think I need to lighten up? You best be kidding, woman!

  10. Another thing that we don’t see from our side of things is the effect this is having on CSX. That line is very busy going to/from Augusta and the Ports of Savannah and Charleston and it had a complete closure for several hours plus will be operating at reduced speed for a while. I don’t want be their dispatcher right now trying to get the trains through.

  11. @Steve – YES! And beyond the dispatching nightmare and the crazy reporting that follows any unusual event, the dollars lost can be staggering. The number NSC gives for some of its bigger x-country freight trains is a monetary loss of about $1.2M per hour of delay on a heavily used track. We manufacture maintenance equipment for the rail roads (highrail) and it is not unheard of for the big guys to trash a $100,000+ truck by pushing it off the tracks with a loader to keep from delaying a train. And remember that a heavy freight train (like those heading into the CSX yard) can take over 1/2 a mile to stop from 30mph.

    And finally, my favorite train related PSA! (warning, twisted humor and animated gore. But very amusing, in my eyes:

    1. That is now my current favorite Youtube video. Thank you, swillard.

    2. Given that there’s no backpacks or notebooks allowed in RMS for the rest of the week and it sounds like there’s a lot of parties and movies going on, may I suggest that this video be shown? It’s edgy but probably more effective than parental “it could happen to you” stories from the ancient past. And, unfortunately, it’s not just the train hazards that might be needed. A few of the other hazards resonated as well–toaster/fork and rattlesnake ownership come to mind.

      1. So there’s really a push for rattlesnake ownership in your household? Hmmm…

        1. Over my dead body…..

          Interesting factoid (as in I haven’t checked it out in years), the highest rates of rattlesnake bites are 1) among rattlesnake owners; and 2) among young adult males who have been drinking in rattlesnake country.

  12. Question on this incident: So how long was the bus stuck before the train hit it? Since no one got hurt (thankfully), there must have been time to get everyone off the train. But my question is: was there an oncoming train in the immediate vicinity and did MARTA not have enough time to contact CSX?

    1. (1) The engineer would probably have had to hit the brake in Clarkston.
      (2) Are you thinking of the same MARTA I’m thinking of?

Comments are closed.