Research shows that fatality rate involving buses would drop by 54% if government shut down illegal or unsafe operators. (Photo credit: Sean Stipp, Tribune-Review)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Bus Association is calling out a bus operator for numerous safety violations and bad practices in the wake of a bus crash on Monday that claimed the life of a tour bus driver and injured dozens of passengers.
The accident happened when a bus traveling from Kentucky to New Jersey rear-ended a tractor trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Donegal, Pa.., east of Pittsburgh.
The driver had reportedly been hired just two weeks before. Published reports have said the bus was owned and operated by the New Oriental Tour Company and Mr. Ho Bus Services, registered in both Bethlehem, Pa. and Brooklyn, N.Y.
The American Bus Association discovered severe safety violations after closely reviewing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s safety ratings for the New Oriental Tour Company and Mr. Ho Bus Services. The New Oriental Tour Company has its operating authority revoked four times in nine years and had numerous violations for unsafe driving, including speeding, driving over the hours allowed, and falsifying logbooks.
Motorcoach traveling from Kentucky to New Jersey rear-ended a tractor trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Mr. Ho Bus Services passed a federal compliance review on June 7, but its drivers ranked in the bottom third for driver fatigue and its vehicles ranked in the bottom 40% for maintenance. In late March, one of the company’s buses was taken out of service due to serious issues with its braking systems and emergency exits. In the last two years, the company has been cited for numerous safety and maintenance issues.
“The ABA strongly believes bus companies with such a troubled history of consistent major safety problems need to be inspected and reviewed on a regular basis,” ABA President and CEO Peter J. Pantuso said. “The question here is why did inspectors okay Mr. Ho [Bus Services] just three weeks ago when the record shows it was operating unsafe buses? This is unacceptable.
“Our research shows if the government would once and for all shut down companies that operate below the margins of safety, or illegally, the fatality rate involving buses will drop by 54%. It is a small number of companies causing a large number of accidents, and the FMCSA and state governments really need to focus on these operators.”
The ABA also believes that compliance reviews should be at the bus facility, not at an apartment building, house or office, looking not only at paper work but at equipment and maintenance procedures. In addition, “reviews should happen across the board, not just with the companies that are easy to find because they have a long history of safe operations,” the ABA said in a statement.
Sources: American Bus Association; Reuters; Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor