Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrationshut down 26 commercial curbside bus operations in six states due to purported safety hazards. Although the agency’s officials halter operations in Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, many of the 233 affected routes transported passengers along Interstate 95 between New York’s Chinatown district and Florida. The closure was the largest federal intervention in the industry.
The curbside bus industry has reportedly grown quickly over the past decade. Curbside bus companies utilize online ticket sales and do not operate out of terminals. Once a passenger has purchased a ticket, they are then picked up on a designated street corner. Curbside bus fares tend to be cheaper than other motor coach carriers due to fewer overhead costs and lower driver wages. According to federal investigators, curbside bus companies are involved in fatal accidents seven times more often than other commercial motor coach operators.
The closures followed a 12-month Safety Administration investigation of three curbside bus companies. All of the operations closed by the agency were part of a network operated by Apex Bus Inc., I-95 Coach Inc., or New Century Travel Inc. Only nine of the companies closed by federal authorities were actively in service. An additional 13 companies were operating without permission to transport passengers. 10 company employees, managers, and owners were also forbidden from engaging in any further passenger transportation operations. The order was reportedly issued to keep closed bus operators from simply beginning another curbside bus operation under a new name.
United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated the bus companies were closed in order to save lives on the nation’s roadways. He said the companies were bad actors that put passengers and motorists at risk. Secretary LaHood also advised Congress to pass legislation that would stop shuttered bus carriers from later reopening and allow the Safety Administration to regulate bus ticket sellers and brokers who don’t physically transport passengers. Dan Ronan, a spokesperson for the American Bus Association, applauded the federally mandated shutdowns.
According to federal investigators, each of the 26 carriers employed drivers who did not have a valid commercial driver’s license, failed to administer required driver alcohol and drug tests, and operated despite multiple safety regulation violations. The motor coaches used by the companies were allegedly not regularly inspected for safety hazards or repaired when necessary. Additionally, bus drivers reportedly failed to adhere to federal rest requirements.
The curbside bus investigation began in response to several fatal curbside bus accidents last year. In the United States, an estimated 700 million people travel via motor coach annually. According to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, 24 commercial bus crashes resulted in 34 deaths and 467 injuries in the U.S. in 2011. If you were involved in an unfortunate bus accident in Texas, it is a good idea to contact a skilled personal injury attorney to help you protect your rights.
If you were hurt or lost a family member in a motor coach accident, call the law firm of Carabin & Shaw toll free at (800) 862-1260. Our experienced San Antonio bus accident lawyers are available to answer your questions and help you file your personal injury or wrongful death case. At Carabin & Shaw, our hardworking attorneys represent injured clients throughout Texas including Beaumont, Laredo, McAllen, Beeville, El Paso, Seguin, Rockport, Austin, and San Antonio. To schedule a free confidential consultation with a dedicated Texas lawyer, contact Carabin & Shaw through the law firm’s website.
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Gov’t cracking down on curbside bus companies, by Joan Lowy, Wall Street Journal