Industry Research

Bus Safety Study Spotlights Weak Spots

Posted on November 2, 2011

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Although America Bus Association operator-members are follow safety rules and have the highest ground transportation safety ratings, there are companies on the roads that are not running safely. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must do a better job “finding, inspecting and shutting down bus companies that operate outside the law,” ABA president and CEO Peter Pantuso said in a press release this week.

The statement comes on the heels of the National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the safety of curbside motorcoach companies.

The NTSB’s study points out that traveling by motorcoach remains the safest form of surface transportation in the U.S. The growth of motorcoach travel to cities like New York, and the expansion of companies including Bolt, Megabus and other curbside carries, substantiates the fact that customers agree motorcoach travel is the best way to travel.

The ABA has decided it will not allow any motorcoach company with an “Unsatisfactory” FMCSA compliance review score to be a member. If a company has a “Conditional” rating, the company has six months to get the score elevated to “Satisfactory” or its ABA membership will be dropped. In addition, the ABA is now reviewing its database every three months to determine an operator’s safety status.

Low-fare buses crash more often, NTSB study finds.

High Fatality Rate Found For Low-Cost Buses.

Lax Rules for Discount Buses Cited After I-95 Crash.

The NTSB’s report points out several areas of agreement with positions the ABA has taken:

  • The NTSB and ABA support a higher entry fee than the current $300 for a company to apply to the Department of Transportation to obtain a DOT license to carry people.
  • The NTSB report points out critical problems exist with some companies and its drivers not being able to master the requirement to speak or read English.
  • The NTSB report says driver fatigue is a contributing factor in many accidents and a continuing safety concern. The ABA’s Bus Industry Safety Council is addressing the issue and the FMCSA has brought in a leading human performance/sleep expert to suggest ways the government, motorcoach companies and drivers can improve significantly in this area.
  • The ABA believes more emphasis needs to be placed on inspecting motorcoaches in facilities at their point of origin or the destination.
  • Vehicle inspectors should place a top priority on inspecting motorcoaches rather than commercial trucks. While commercial products — such as food — are important, people deserve a higher priority.
  • The NTSB report indicates the FMCSA’s own database needs a thorough review and updating.
  • The NTSB report indicates a clear lack of transparency when it comes to online ticket brokers and the relationship those brokers have to particular motorcoach companies. In many cases a passenger does not know which company he or she has bought a ticket for.

The ABA agrees with the NTSB that a system should be in place to inspect new bus companies before they begin transporting passengers.

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