U.S. DOT Shuts Down 26 Bus Operations In Major Crackdown

Posted on May 31, 2012

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.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro addressed this major crackdown at a conference in New York City that was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT.
In a supporting statement Thursday, the American Bus Association strongly applauded the actions by the FMCSA. In a release, the ABA said it “believes that for too long these now out-of-service companies have managed to flout the laws and regulations that safe, well-run bus companies follow. The concentrated action to get these carriers shutdown and prosecuted is much appreciated.

“We continue to believe that strong, consistent enforcement of the current regulations governing motorcoach operations is the most effective way to insure the safety of the traveling public,” the ABA said.

The ABA reviews its membership ranks every 90 days and removes any company that has an “unsatisfactory” score in the FMCSA’s SAFER system data base. Companies that have a “conditional” score are given 180 days to bring the scores up to “satisfactory” or they are also removed from the ABA’s membership. None of the companies ordered to shut down were ABA members.
Earlier this month, FMCSA and its state and local law enforcement partners conducted safety inspections of motorcoaches, tour buses, school buses and other commercial passenger buses in 13 states and the District of Columbia. This effort resulted in more than 2,200 safety inspections and the successful removal of 116 CMV drivers and 169 buses from the roadway for substantial safety violations.

Congress also is considering surface transportation legislation which, if passed, would adopt several new safety policy proposals to further protect bus passengers, including:

  • Granting FMCSA greater authority to pursue enforcement action against unsafe “reincarnated” companies by establishing a single national standard for successor liability that eliminates the loophole allowing bus and truck companies that have been shut down for unsafe operations to recreate themselves.
  • Eliminating the jurisdictional gap that prevents FMCSA from directly regulating passenger carrier brokers, including ticket sellers that are not also motor carriers.
  • Enhancing FMCSA and its state partners’ authority to inspect buses at locations with adequate food, shelter and sanitation facilities for passengers;
  • Requiring new passenger carriers to undergo a full safety audit before receiving operating authority.
  • Raising the penalty from $2,200 to $25,000 a day against passenger carriers that attempt to operate without valid USDOT operating authority.

Source: Department of Transportation; American Bus Association

Related Topics: American Bus Association, bus regulations, buses, charter and tour operators, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, federal regulations, legislation, motorcoaches, regulatory enforcement

Comments ( 2 )
  • Susan Lundquist

     | about 7 years ago

    Excellent result of a costly and involved investigation. Great work! Hopefully the public will now understand the reason legitimate operators charge a little bit more than they guys who aren't ABA members.

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