VIA refuses to replace rider's bike after it was destroyed in crash

VIA claims other driver is at fault

SAN ANTONIO – VIA Metropolitan Transit has declined to cover the cost of a replacement bicycle for one of its riders, months after the bike was mangled in a crash involving a VIA bus and truck near downtown.

"I was watching my bike get crumpled," said Margarita McAuliffe, who secured her $1,100 road bicycle to the front of the bus shortly before it collided with another vehicle on June 29 in the intersection of Broadway and Allensworth Street.

The collision caused the bike to separate into three pieces and bent the wheels and handlebars beyond repair.

According to documents obtained by The Defenders, a claims analyst for VIA rejected McAuliffe's claim a week after the crash, after the company determined that the truck failed to yield the right of way to the bus.

However, the San Antonio Police Department crash report for the incident stated that the officer on scene was unable to determine who was at fault.

The driver of the truck, Robert Munoz, told The Defenders this week he turned left on a green arrow when the bus plowed into his passenger side.

Munoz's truck, which was towed to his house after the wreck, is undriveable.

Munoz said he later received a bill from VIA for more than $7,000 for damage caused to the bus, but has hired an attorney since he was not at fault in the crash.

VIA declined a request for comment on this story, and has refused to release on-board footage of the crash because of the "threat of possible litigation" in the case.

"I mean, I was the strongest advocate VIA had in this city. And now, no, I won't ride the bus," said McAuliffe, who claims she bought a less expensive bike to help her get around for the time being.

McAuliffe provided The Defenders documents showing that VIA has twice declined to take part in Bexar County Dispute Resolution.

VIA's 'Bike & Ride' website contains a statement that it is not responsible for damage arising from using its bike racks.

A VIA spokesperson did not respond to an email from The Defenders about whether a similar warning is posted on its buses or bike racks.