Entries in Bus Crashes (3)


Government Shuts Down 26 Bus Companies over Safety Violations

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Following a series of deadly coach bus accidents last year, federal regulators are cracking down on unsafe operators, announcing Thursday morning that they're ordering 26 East Coast bus companies to shut down.

The companies in question transported some 1,800 passengers a day along I-95, from New York to Florida.  Of the 26 ordered to shut down, half had already been given that order, but kept operating anyway.

Officials say all of the carriers had been cited for repeated violations -- with buses that hadn't been regularly inspected and drivers that didn't have valid licenses.  Some drivers also regularly worked longer hours than allowed.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Worried About Bus Safety? Now There’s an App for That

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Ever want to monitor the bus you’re riding in up-to-the-minute fashion? There’s a new app for that, and it allows you to check the safety record of a bus company before booking that summer trip.

The National Transportation Safety Board says discount bus lines are one of the fastest growing modes of transportation, but they are seven times more dangerous than the bus lines that run between traditional bus terminals.

In cities like Washington, D.C., dozens of people can be seen queuing up Friday after work in historic DuPont circle for a $25 trip to New York City, and there are popular discount bus companies operating between numerous other cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco or Miami and Orlando.

As the summer months approach and vacations are planned, these lines will undoubtedly get longer and although the app can't tell you where the longest line will be, it can tell you which of the bus companies is the safest.

The safety of these buses came into question last year when two were involved in crashes, one including a fatality.

Tuesday the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) unveiled its SaferBus application, which allows motor coach riders to check the safety record of a bus company before booking their ticket. You can even make a complaint about the bus you are riding, while you are riding it.

“This new app gives Americans the information they need to make smart safety decisions when they book their next bus trip,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement to ABC News.  “As college students, families and tour groups start thinking about spring and summer travel, we encourage everyone to use the SaferBus app to look before you book your next bus trip.”

With gas nearing $4 a gallon and expected to continue moving up into the summer travel season, buses are often used as a cheaper travel method.

“SaferBus is FMCSA’s first step at making our thorough safety data on commercial bus companies available through smartphone technology,” FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in a statement to ABC News. “By placing a bus company’s safety record in the palm of your hand, SaferBus encourages riders to think safety first, supports our agency’s commitment to make bus travel as safe as possible, and provides good bus companies a way to highlight their positive safety records.”

The free app, the FMCSA is touting as “first of its kind,” provides safety records for nearly 6,000 interstate commercial passenger carriers operating in the United States today.

This app comes after a report released last October by the NTSB highlighted key safety issues, including high accident rates.

Curbside motorcoach operations are described as scheduled trips that begin or end at locations other than traditional bus terminals.

One key finding of the report showed from January 2005 to March 2011 the fatal accident rate for curbside carriers from was seven times that of conventional bus operations (about 1.4 fatal accidents per 100 vehicles). In addition, the report highlighted that FMCSA is overburdened having only about one inspector for every 1,000 motorcoaches.

“Business and safety practices within the growing curbside bus industry create challenges for enforcement authorities and consumers alike when it comes to separating the safe operators from the unsafe operators,” Hersman said during last year’s press conference.

The app is available for iPhone and iPad users and can be downloaded from the iTunes store or from FMCSA’s “Look Before You Book” webpage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fatal Bus Crashes Prompt Bus Regulators to Seek Greater Authority

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of the recent deadly bus crashes, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is recommending Congress strengthen its authority.

The regulatory agency wants en route bus inspections, the ability to more quickly shut down companies acting improperly, an increase in the penalty for bus companies that operate illegally, full safety audits before a company receives passenger carrier authority, and regulation authority of bus ticket brokers.

"This year has been the worst period in recent history for motor coach safety with six crashes, resulting in 25 deaths and numerous injures just since January," Anne Ferro, the administrator of FMCSA, told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Monday.   

"It is exceedingly frustrating that despite tighter safety standards and dramatic increases in the number of inspection and enforcement action that we're taking that the risk to passengers continues from a few bad actors."

Since January FMCSA has declared 18 bus companies unsatisfactory, pulling them off the roads.  Another 15 bus companies with unsatisfactory ratings are currently under review and appeal.  Although FMCSA has the authority under law to declare some companies a "severe risk," which immediately terminates operations, the agency often does not do so.  Under law, a company that has been given an unsatisfactory rating can continue to operate for 45 days during an appeals process.

Safety advocates say that is much too dangerous, pointing to a deadly crash on I-95 May 31 in Virginia.  Four people were killed on a Sky Express bus, even though regulators had been trying to shut down the company. A safety advocate told the House hearing that's outrageous.

"The Virginia crash that occurred last week has revealed a dirty little secret that safety advocates have revealed for years," said Jacqueline Gillian, vice president for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. "Giving motor coach companies with an unsatisfactory safety rating 45 days or longer to continue operating or carrying passengers is simply unacceptable,"

John Mica, R-Fla., the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the hearing on Monday. The committee is drafting a bill that would make changes to regulations of bus operations.

Pete DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon on the committee, suggested deregulation of interstate commerce for buses has been a contributing factor for the increase in low-cost tour bus crashes.  "The intention of deregulation was to bring about competition, but not to kill people," he said. "That's where a total deregulation environment fails us."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio