Page 1 of 2
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Thursday it has shut down 26 bus operations, declaring them imminent hazards to public safety.
This action is the largest single safety crackdown in the agency’s history and follows a year-long investigation that discovered a network of carriers who had multiple safety violations, including a continuous pattern of using drivers without valid commercial driver’s licenses and failure to have alcohol and drug testing programs.
FMCSA also ordered 10 individual bus company owners, managers and employees to cease all passenger transportation operations, including selling bus tickets to passengers. The bus companies transported more than 1,800 passengers a day along Interstate-95, from New York to Florida.
FMCSA’s investigation revealed that three main companies — Apex Bus Inc., I-95 Coach Inc., and New Century Travel Inc. — oversaw a broad network of other companies. The 26 shutdown orders apply to one ticket seller, nine active bus companies, 13 companies already ordered out of service that continued to operate, and three companies attempting to apply for operating authority. The various companies aer based out of Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
In addition to the aforementioned safety violations, federal safety investigators also found that the companies operated vehicles which had not been regularly inspected and repaired. The companies’ drivers suffered from serious hours-of-service and driver qualification violations.
Along with the “Imminent Hazard” orders, FMCSA has revoked the carriers’ operating authority and linked the active companies to other companies previously placed out of service. These steps have been made possible by a new FMCSA rule and will ensure that the bus companies that were shut down Thursday cannot continue to operate under other names. This new rule, published in April, expands FMCSA’s authority to take action against unsafe motor carriers that attempt to evade enforcement by “reincarnating” into other forms or by illegally continuing their operations through affiliate companies.
The agency began investigating the network of carriers operating along I-95 following a series of deadly bus crashes last spring. It ordered several bus companies to shut down last summer after a comprehensive compliance review of their operations. The investigation also uncovered serious problems and safety violations with other I-95 motor carriers, and FMCSA investigators worked diligently to establish the links between the bus networks.