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N.J. bus driver falls asleep behind wheel en route to Manhattan, passengers say

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An NJ Transit driver fell asleep behind the wheel Monday morning, causing a crash that put 50 bus passengers in danger on their way into Manhattan, NBC 4 New York has learned exclusively.

Several passengers on board the 166-X bus from Englewood to Port Authority tell NBC 4 New York the driver nodded off and lost control of the bus, swerving into the guardrail and nearly falling off an overpass that runs above I-495. 

Lila Noble, who was sitting toward the front of the bus, said she suddenly heard "clang, bang, boom."

"I looked up from my email and I saw that we were almost off the guardrail," she said. 

Riders said the bus driver was startled awake when a woman on board screamed. 

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The driver pulled over, but only after the riders demanded he do so, passengers told NBC 4 New York. 

"He said, 'Stay on, we can go,'" said Noble. "Nobody wanted any part of that."

Another bus picked up the passengers and continued the route. No one was hurt.

Several passengers filed complaints about the driver and the crash, but they said they haven't received a response to the incident.

NJ Transit spokesman John Durso said the bus operator was taken out of service as NJ Transit conducts an investigation. 

That's only some relief to those passengers who are now second-guessing their commute.

"It needs to be addressed why inexperienced drivers are operating buses with 50 people's lives in their hands," said Noble.