The agreement follows months of investigations into the company’s fleet and more than two weeks after Ride the Ducks vehicles returned to streets for the first time since September’s deadly collision.
Seattle officials and Ride the Ducks tour company have agreed on new routes and operator guidelines for when the amphibious vehicles will return to passenger service following September’s deadly crash on the Aurora Bridge.
The agreement between the city’s department of transportation (SDOT) and the company states two crew members must be on board during tours, pending City Council approval, and vehicles will not use the bridge, according to a release from the transportation department.
The company announced the crew-member standard to improve safety in October. The vehicle that crashed had only one crew member. Also in October, an attorney for Ride the Ducks said vehicles will no longer use the bridge. However, at that time, specific routes were unclear.
“We are pleased that after thoughtful discussion with Mayor Ed Murray and his staff, we have reached a memorandum of understanding regarding our route and operation on Seattle’s streets and waterways,” Ride the Ducks of Seattle president Brian Tracey said in a statement.
Wednesday’s agreement follows months of investigations into the company’s fleet and more than two weeks after Ride the Ducks vehicles returned to streets for testing for the first time since the deadly collision on Sept. 24.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) suspended operations shortly after the crash — which killed five and injured dozens — to run a full investigation into the company’s fleet. Investigators uncovered hundreds of violations of motor-carrier safety rules or laws, most of which were minor paperwork issues.
Before the end of this month, Ride the Ducks must submit a “safety management plan” to the UTC for its review and approval.
In December, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s office announced its opposition to UTC’s recommendation that the company be allowed to return half its fleet to service, requesting vehicles stay off city roads until the company’s safety rating is resolved.
There is no estimated date for when the testing phase will end, nor when operations will resume to full passenger service, according to the statement from Ride the Ducks spokesman Mark Firmani.
“While Seattle has limited regulatory authority, I directed SDOT to thoroughly review the Ducks’ proposed routes for safety,” Murray said in the SDOT release. “We will continue to monitor the Ducks and I am committed to working with them to ensure they operate as safely as possible.”